In Yellowstone National Park, a small percentage of thermal features support streamer biofilm communities (SBCs), but their growth criteria are poorly understood. This study investigates biofilms in two SBC hosting, and two non-SBC springs. Sequencing of 16S rRNA clones indicates changing community structure as a function of downstream geochemistry, with many novel representatives particularly among the Crenarchaeota. While some taxonomic groups show little genetic variation, others show specialization by sample location. The transition fringe environment between the hotter chemosynthetic and cooler photosynthetic zones hosts a larger diversity of organisms in SBC bearing springs. This transition is proposed to represent an ecotone; this is the first description of an ecotone in a hydrothermal environment. The Aquificales are ubiquitous and dominate among the Bacteria in the hottest environments. However, there is no difference in species of Aquificales from SBC and non-SBC locations, suggesting they are not responsible for the formation of SBCs, or that their role in SBC formation is competitively suppressed in non-SBC sites. In addition, only SBC locations support Thermotogales-like organisms, highlighting the potential importance these organisms may have in SBC formation. Here, we present a novel view of SBC formation and variability in hydrothermal ecosystems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics