Iron oxide sheaths and filaments are commonly found in hydrothermal environments and have been shown to have a biogenic origin. These structures were seen in the flocculent material associated with two submarine volcanoes along the Kermadec Arc north of New Zealand. Molecular characterization of the bacterial communities associated with the flocculent samples indicated that no known Fe-oxidizing bacteria dominated the recovered clone libraries. However, clones related to the recently described Fe-oxidizing bacterium Mariprofundus ferrooxydans were obtained from both the iron-containing flocculent (Fe-floc) and sediment samples, and peaks corresponding to Mariprofundus ferrooxydans, as well as the related clones, were observed in several of our terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles. A large group of epsilonproteobacterial sequences, for which there is no cultured representative, dominated clones from the Fe-floc libraries and were less prevalent in the sediment sample. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that several operational taxonomic units appeared to be site specific, and statistical analyses of the clone libraries found that all samples were significantly different from each other. Thus, the bacterial communities in the Fe-floc samples were not more closely related to each other than to the sediment communities
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