Strong linkage between benthic oxygen uptake and bacterial tetraether lipids in deep-sea trench regions

Wenjie Xiao*, Yunping Xu*, Donald E. Canfield, Frank Wenzhöfer, Chuanlun Zhang, Ronnie N. Glud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Oxygen in marine sediments regulates many key biogeochemical processes, playing a crucial role in shaping Earth’s climate and benthic ecosystems. In this context, branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs), essential biomarkers in paleoenvironmental research, exhibit an as-yet-unresolved association with sediment oxygen conditions. Here, we investigated brGDGTs in sediments from three deep-sea regions (4045 to 10,100 m water depth) dominated by three respective trench systems and integrated the results with in situ oxygen microprofile data. Our results demonstrate robust correlations between diffusive oxygen uptake (DOU) obtained from microprofiles and brGDGT methylation and isomerization degrees, indicating their primary production within sediments and their strong linkage with microbial diagenetic activity. We establish a quantitative relationship between the Isomerization and Methylation index of Branched Tetraethers (IMBT) and DOU, suggesting its potential validity across deep-sea environments. Increased brGDGT methylation and isomerization likely enhance the fitness of source organisms in deep-sea habitats. Our study positions brGDGTs as a promising tool for quantifying benthic DOU in deep-sea settings, where DOU is a key metric for assessing sedimentary organic carbon degradation and microbial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3439
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


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