Marine sediments contain eukaryotic DNA deposited from overlying water columns. However, a large proportion of deposited eukaryotic DNA is aerobically biodegraded in shallow marine sediments. Cold seep sediments are often anaerobic near the sediment–water interface, so eukaryotic DNA in such sediments is expected to be preserved. We investigated deeply buried marine sediments in the Japan Sea, where a methane hydrate deposit is associated with cold seeps. Quantitative PCR analysis revealed the reproducible recovery of eukaryotic DNA in marine sediments at depths up to 31.0 m in the vicinity of the methane hydrate deposit. In contrast, the reproducible recovery of eukaryotic DNA was limited to a shallow depth (8.3 m) in marine sediments not adjacent to the methane hydrate deposit in the same area. Pyrosequencing of an 18S rRNA gene variable region generated 1,276–3,307 reads per sample, which was sufficient to cover the biodiversity based on rarefaction curves. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that most of the eukaryotic DNA originated from radiolarian genera of the class Chaunacanthida, which have SrSO4 skeletons, the sea grass genus Zostera, and the seaweed genus Sargassum. Eukaryotic DNA originating from other planktonic fauna and land plants was also detected. Diatom sequences closely related to Thalassiosira spp., indicative of cold climates, were obtained from sediments deposited during the last glacial period (MIS-2). Plant sequences of the genera Alnus, Micromonas, and Ulmus were found in sediments deposited during the warm interstadial period (MIS-3). These results suggest the long-term persistence of eukaryotic DNA from terrestrial and aquatic sources in marine sediments associated with cold seeps, and that the genetic information from eukaryotic DNA from deeply buried marine sediments associated with cold seeps can be used to reconstruct environments and ecosystems from the past.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)