Document Type


Publication Date



University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach

Publisher Location

Las Vegas (Nev.)


Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) are core membrane lipids of many Archaea and some Bacteria found ubiquitously in soils and in many aqueous environments. Here, we examined the GDGT concentration in forty sediment samples from geothermal hot springs in the Great Basin (USA). Sediment samples were collected in tandem with extensive geochemical and site characterization. Hot spring temperatures ranged from 31 to 95°C and pH values from 6.8 to 10.7. Parametric Pearson's correlation coefficients and nonparametric Spearman's rho values were calculated to identify significant correlations between GDGT profiles and geochemical analytes. Isoprenoidal GDGTs (iGDGTs) negatively correlated with pH and positively correlated with temperature, Cr, and Cu, which is consistent with the importance of iGDGTs in the maintenance of membrane integrity at high temperature spring sources. In contrast, branched GDGTs (bGDGTs) displayed a negative relationship with temperature and a positive correlation with nitrate, nitrite and dissolved oxygen, demonstrating a niche for bGDGT-producing organisms in cooler, more oxidized springs away from the hottest geothermal sources. In addition, a collection of eleven thermophilic bacterial strains hypothesized to synthesize bGDGTs were tested; however, none synthesized GDGTs under the tested conditions. Our data provides insight into the environmental conditions under which archaeal and bacterial GDGTs are produced, which may improve the use of GDGTs as environmental proxies for understanding climates and conditions of the past and the future.


California; Hot springs; Membrane lipids; Nevada; Thermophilic microorganisms


Bacteriology | Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Microbiology

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945 KB




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