Guay­mas Basin, Gulf of Cal­i­for­nia.

The Guay­mas Basin is located between the states of Sonora and Baja Cal­i­for­nia in the Gulf of Cal­i­for­nia. Guay­mas is a spread­ing axis that dif­fers from the plate bound­ary zones at the mid ocean ridges because seafloor erup­tions are inhib­ited by rapid depo­si­tions of low-​density sed­i­ments (Lond­slade and Becker, 1985). The Basin is a hydrother­mally active envi­ron­ment that includes vent plumes, seeps, and anoxic sed­i­ments, each of them exhibit­ing a wide range of tem­per­a­tures. This envi­ron­ment sup­ports surface-​attached micro­bial mats, diverse prokary­otic and eukary­otic microbes, and symbiont-​harboring inver­te­brates. Warm, sul­fide– and hydrocarbon-​rich, anaer­o­bic sed­i­ments accu­mu­late at a rate of 12 mm/​year because of the high bio­log­i­cal pro­duc­tiv­ity in the water col­umn and a large ter­rige­nous input from Baja and the Mex­i­can main­land (Edg­comb et al., 2002).
The hydrother­mal envi­ron­ment of the Guay­mas Basin serves as a model sys­tem to study anaer­o­bic micro­bial com­mu­ni­ties (methane oxi­diz­ers, and sul­fate reduc­ers) that cat­alyze a sulfate-​and methane-​driven anaer­o­bic car­bon cycle that is com­pat­i­ble with sta­ble car­bon and sul­fur iso­tope evi­dence for early Earth ecosys­tems (Teske et al., 2003). As other hydrother­mal sys­tems, the Guay­mas Basin is a test bed for micro­bial ecosys­tems analogs for the Jupiter satel­lite, Europa.
The Guay­mas Basin is presently stud­ied by Dr. Elva Escobar-​Briones head of the Bio­di­ver­sity and Macro­e­col­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory (Insti­tuto de Cien­cias del Mar y Lim­nología, UNAM), and was explored by the Marine Bio­log­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory, NAI team (20032008).


Edg­comb, V. P., Kysela, D. T., Teske, A., de Vera Gomez, A. and Sogin, M. L. 2002. Ben­thic eukary­otic diver­sity in the Guay­mas Basin hydrother­mal vent envi­ron­ment. Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences of the United States of Amer­ica 99: 76587662.

Lons­dale, P. and Becker, K. 1985. Hydrother­mal plumes, hot springs, and con­duc­tive heat flow in the South­ern Trough of Guay­mas Basin. Earth and Plan­e­tary Sci­ence Let­ters 73: 211225.

Teske, A., Dhillon, A. and M. L. Sogin. 2003. Genomic Mark­ers of ancient anaer­o­bic micro­bial path­ways: sul­fate reduc­tion, methano­gen­e­sis, and methane oxi­da­tion. The Bio­log­i­cal Bul­letin 204: 186191.

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