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Abstract

The rocks and sediments of the oceanic subsurface represent a diverse mosaic of environments potentially inhabited by microorganisms. Understanding microbial ecosystems in subseafloor environments confounds standard ecological descriptions in part because we have difficulty elucidating and describing the scale of relevant processes. Habitat characteristics impact microbial activities and growth, which in turn affect microbial diversity, net production, and global biogeochemical cycles. Herein we provide descriptions of subseafloor microbial provinces, broadly defined as geologically and geographically coherent regions of the subseafloor that may serve as potential microbial habitats. The purpose of this review is to summarize and refine criteria for the definition and delineation of distinct subseafloor microbial habitats to aid in their exploration. This review and the criteria we outline aim to develop a unified framework to improve our understanding of subseafloor microbial ecology, enable quantification of geomicrobial processes, and facilitate their accurate assimilation into biogeochemical models.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-marine-120308-081000
2010-01-15
2024-05-29
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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