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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

The microbiome of the Black Sea water column analyzed by shotgun and genome centric metagenomics

Cabello-Yeves, Pedro J; Callieri, Cristiana; Picazo, Antonio; Mehrshad, Maliheh; Haro-Moreno, Jose M; Roda-Garcia, Juan J; Dzhembekova, Nina; Slabakova, Violeta; Slabakova, Nataliya; Moncheva, Snejana; Rodriguez Valera, Francisco


Background: The Black Sea is the largest brackish water body in the world, although it is connected to the Mediterranean Sea and presents an upper water layer similar to some regions of the former, albeit with lower salinity and temperature. Despite its well-known hydrology and physicochemical features, this enormous water mass remains poorly studied at the microbial genomics level.
Results: We have sampled its different water masses and analyzed the microbiome by shotgun and genome-resolved metagenomics, generating a large number of metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from them. We found various similarities with previously described Black Sea metagenomic datasets, that show remarkable stability in its microbiome. Our datasets are also comparable to other marine anoxic water columns like the Cariaco Basin. The oxic zone resembles to standard marine (e.g. Mediterranean) photic zones, with Cyanobacteria (Synechococcus but a conspicuously absent Prochlorococcus), and photoheterotrophs domination (largely again with marine relatives). The chemocline presents very different characteristics from the oxic surface with many examples of chemolithotrophic metabolism (Thioglobus) and facultatively anaerobic microbes. The euxinic anaerobic zone presents, as expected, features in common with the bottom of meromictic lakes with a massive dominance of sulfate reduction as energy-generating metabolism, a few (but detectable) methanogenesis marker genes, and a large number of “dark matter” streamlined genomes of largely unpredictable ecology.
Conclusions: The Black Sea oxic zone presents many similarities to the global ocean while the redoxcline and euxinic water masses have similarities to other similar aquatic environments of marine (Cariaco Basin or other Black Sea regions) or freshwater (meromictic monimolimnion strata) origin. The MAG collection represents very well the different types of metabolisms expected in this kind of environment. We are adding critical information about this unique and important ecosystem and its microbiome.


Black Sea microbiota; Genome-resolved metagenomics; Redoxcline; Euxinic waters

Published in

Environmental Microbiome
2021, Volume: 16, number: 1, article number: 5

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

    Publication Identifiers


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