Temperature limits to deep subseafloor life in the Nankai Trough subduction zone

Verena B. Heuer, Fumio Inagaki, Yuki Morono, Yusuke Kubo, Arthur J. Spivack, Bernhard Viehweger, Tina Treude, Felix Beulig, Florence Schubotz, Satoshi Tonai, Stephen A. Bowden, Margaret Cramm, Susann Henkel, Takehiro Hirose, Kira Homola, Tatsuhiko Hoshino, Akira Ijiri, Hiroyuki Imachi, Nana Kamiya, Masanori KanekoLorenzo Lagostina, Hayley Manners, Harry Luke McClelland, Kyle Metcalfe, Natsumi Okutsu, Donald Pan, Maija J. Raudsepp, Justine Sauvage, Man Yin Tsang, David T. Wang, Emily Whitaker, Yuzuru Yamamoto, Kiho Yang, Lena Maeda, Rishi R. Adhikari, Clemens Glombitza, Yohei Hamada, Jens Kallmeyer, Jenny Wendt, Lars Wörmer, Yasuhiro Yamada, Masataka Kinoshita, Kai Uwe Hinrichs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Microorganisms in marine subsurface sediments substantially contribute to global biomass. Sediments warmer than 40°C account for roughly half the marine sediment volume, but the processes mediated by microbial populations in these hard-to-access environments are poorly understood. We investigated microbial life in up to 1.2-kilometer-deep and up to 120°C hot sediments in the Nankai Trough subduction zone. Above 45°C, concentrations of vegetative cells drop two orders of magnitude and endospores become more than 6000 times more abundant than vegetative cells. Methane is biologically produced and oxidized until sediments reach 80° to 85°C. In 100° to 120°C sediments, isotopic evidence and increased cell concentrations demonstrate the activity of acetate-degrading hyperthermophiles. Above 45°C, populated zones alternate with zones up to 192 meters thick where microbes were undetectable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1230-1234
Number of pages5
Issue number6521
Publication statusPublished - Dec 4 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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