Metagenome sequencing of prokaryotic microbiota collected from Byron Glacier, Alaska.
ABSTRACT: Cold environments, such as glaciers, are large reservoirs of microbial life. The present study employed 16S rRNA gene amplicon metagenomic sequencing to survey the prokaryotic microbiota on Alaskan glacial ice, revealing a rich and diverse microbial community of some 2,500 species of bacteria and archaea.
Project description:While glaciers become increasingly recognised as a habitat for diverse and active microbial communities, effects of their climate change-induced retreat on the microbial ecology of glacier-fed streams remain elusive. Understanding the effect of climate change on microorganisms in these ecosystems is crucial given that microbial biofilms control numerous stream ecosystem processes with potential implications for downstream biodiversity and biogeochemistry. Here, using a space-for-time substitution approach across 26 Alpine glaciers, we show how microbial community composition and diversity, based on 454-pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, in biofilms of glacier-fed streams may change as glaciers recede. Variations in streamwater geochemistry correlated with biofilm community composition, even at the phylum level. The most dominant phyla detected in glacial habitats were Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria/chloroplasts. Microorganisms from ice had the lowest ? diversity and contributed marginally to biofilm and streamwater community composition. Rather, streamwater apparently collected microorganisms from various glacial and non-glacial sources forming the upstream metacommunity, thereby achieving the highest ? diversity. Biofilms in the glacier-fed streams had intermediate ? diversity and species sorting by local environmental conditions likely shaped their community composition. ? diversity of streamwater and biofilm communities decreased with elevation, possibly reflecting less diverse sources of microorganisms upstream in the catchment. In contrast, ? diversity of biofilms decreased with increasing streamwater temperature, suggesting that glacier retreat may contribute to the homogenisation of microbial communities among glacier-fed streams.
Project description:Glaciers are geologically important yet transient ecosystems that support diverse, biogeochemically significant microbial communities. During the melt season glaciers undergo dramatic physical, geochemical, and biological changes that exert great influence on downstream biogeochemical cycles. Thus, we sought to understand the temporal melt-season dynamics of microbial communities and associated geochemistry at the terminus of Lemon Creek Glacier (LCG) in coastal southern Alaska. Due to late season snowfall, sampling of LCG occurred in three interconnected areas: proglacial Lake Thomas, the lower glacial outflow stream, and the glacier's terminus. LCG associated microbial communities were phylogenetically diverse and varied by sampling location. However, Betaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes dominated communities at all sampling locations. Strict anaerobic groups such as methanogens, SR1, and OP11 were also recovered from glacier outflows, indicating anoxic conditions in at least some portions of the LCG subglacial environment. Microbial community structure was significantly correlated with sampling location and sodium concentrations. Microbial communities sampled from terminus outflow waters exhibited day-to-day fluctuation in taxonomy and phylogenetic similarity. However, these communities were not significantly different from randomly constructed communities from all three sites. These results indicate that glacial outflows share a large proportion of phylogenetic overlap with downstream environments and that the observed significant shifts in community structure are driven by changes in relative abundance of different taxa, and not complete restructuring of communities. We conclude that LCG glacial discharge hosts a diverse and relatively stable microbiome that shifts at fine taxonomic scales in response to geochemistry and likely water residence time.
Project description:Heterogeneous glacier mass loss has occurred across High Mountain Asia on a multi-decadal timescale. Contrasting climatic settings influence glacier behaviour at the regional scale, but high intra-regional variability in mass loss rates points to factors capable of amplifying glacier recession in addition to climatic change along the Himalaya. Here we examine the influence of surface debris cover and glacial lakes on glacier mass loss across the Himalaya since the 1970s. We find no substantial difference in the mass loss of debris-covered and clean-ice glaciers over our study period, but substantially more negative (-0.13 to -0.29?m w.e.a<sup>-1</sup>) mass balances for lake-terminating glaciers, in comparison to land-terminating glaciers, with the largest differences occurring after 2000. Despite representing a minor portion of the total glacier population (~10%), the recession of lake-terminating glaciers accounted for up to 32% of mass loss in different sub-regions. The continued expansion of established glacial lakes, and the preconditioning of land-terminating glaciers for new lake development increases the likelihood of enhanced ice mass loss from the region in coming decades; a scenario not currently considered in regional ice mass loss projections.
Project description:The largest part of the Earth's microbial biomass is stored in cold environments, which represent almost untapped reservoirs of novel species, processes, and genes. In this study, the first metagenomic survey of the metabolic potential and phylogenetic diversity of a microbial assemblage present in glacial ice is presented. DNA was isolated from glacial ice of the Northern Schneeferner, Germany. Pyrosequencing of this DNA yielded 1,076,539 reads (239.7 Mbp). The phylogenetic composition of the prokaryotic community was assessed by evaluation of a pyrosequencing-derived data set and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. The Proteobacteria (mainly Betaproteobacteria), Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria were the predominant phylogenetic groups. In addition, isolation of psychrophilic microorganisms was performed, and 13 different bacterial isolates were recovered. Analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences of the isolates revealed that all were affiliated to the predominant groups. As expected for microorganisms residing in a low-nutrient environment, a high metabolic versatility with respect to degradation of organic substrates was detected by analysis of the pyrosequencing-derived data set. The presence of autotrophic microorganisms was indicated by identification of genes typical for different ways of carbon fixation. In accordance with the results of the phylogenetic studies, in which mainly aerobic and facultative aerobic bacteria were detected, genes typical for central metabolism of aerobes were found. Nevertheless, the capability of growth under anaerobic conditions was indicated by genes involved in dissimilatory nitrate/nitrite reduction. Numerous characteristics for metabolic adaptations associated with a psychrophilic lifestyle, such as formation of cryoprotectants and maintenance of membrane fluidity by the incorporation of unsaturated fatty acids, were detected. Thus, analysis of the glacial metagenome provided insights into the microbial life in frozen habitats on Earth, thereby possibly shedding light onto microbial life in analogous extraterrestrial environments.
Project description:Most of Earth's glaciers are retreating, but some tidewater glaciers are advancing despite increasing temperatures and contrary to their neighbors. This can be explained by the coupling of ice and sediment dynamics: a shoal forms at the glacier terminus, reducing ice discharge and causing advance towards an unstable configuration followed by abrupt retreat, in a process known as the tidewater glacier cycle. Here we use a numerical model calibrated with observations to show that interactions between ice flow, glacial erosion, and sediment transport drive these cycles, which occur independent of climate variations. Water availability controls cycle period and amplitude, and enhanced melt from future warming could trigger advance even in glaciers that are steady or retreating, complicating interpretations of glacier response to climate change. The resulting shifts in sediment and meltwater delivery from changes in glacier configuration may impact interpretations of marine sediments, fjord geochemistry, and marine ecosystems.The reason some of the Earth's tidewater glaciers are advancing despite increasing temperatures is not entirely clear. Here, using a numerical model that simulates both ice and sediment dynamics, the authors show that internal dynamics drive glacier variability independent of climate.
Project description:Larix laricina (eastern larch, tamarack) is a transcontinental North American conifer with a prominent disjunction in the Yukon isolating the Alaskan distribution from the rest of its range. We investigate whether in situ persistence during the last glacial maximum (LGM) or long-distance postglacial migration from south of the ice sheets resulted in the modern-day Alaskan distribution. We analyzed variation in three chloroplast DNA regions of 840 trees from a total of 69 populations (24 new sampling sites situated on both sides of the Yukon range disjunction pooled with 45 populations from a published source) and conducted ensemble species distribution modeling (SDM) throughout Canada and United States to hindcast the potential range of L. laricina during the LGM. We uncovered the genetic signature of a long-term isolation of larch populations in Alaska, identifying three endemic chlorotypes and low levels of genetic diversity. Range-wide analysis across North America revealed the presence of a distinct Alaskan lineage. Postglacial gene flow across the Yukon divide was unidirectional, from Alaska toward previously glaciated Canadian regions, and with no evidence of immigration into Alaska. Hindcast SDM indicates one of the broadest areas of past climate suitability for L. laricina existed in central Alaska, suggesting possible in situ persistence of larch in Alaska during the LGM. Our results provide the first unambiguous evidence for the long-term isolation of L. laricina in Alaska that extends beyond the last glacial period and into the present interglacial period. The lack of gene flow into Alaska along with the overall probability of larch occurrence in Alaska being currently lower than during the LGM suggests that modern-day Alaskan larch populations are isolated climate relicts of broader glacial distributions, and so are particularly vulnerable to current warming trends.
Project description:Dominant bacteria in the different habitats in the Kuytun 51 Glacier were investigated using a 16S rRNA gene clone library sequencing technique. Results showed diverse bacteria on the glacial surface, with the dominant phyla being Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. UniFrac data showed distinct community patterns between the Kuytun and Himalayan Rongbuk glaciers.
Project description:Glacial retreat is one of the most conspicuous signs of warming in Antarctic regions. Glacier soils harbor an active microbial community of decomposers, and under the continuous retraction of glaciers, the soil starts to present a gradient of physical, chemical, and biological factors reflecting regional changes over time. Little is known about the biological nature of fungi in Antarctic glacier soils. In this sense, this work aimed at studying the behavior of fungal community structure from samples of glacier soil collected after glacial retreat (Collins Glacier). A total of 309 fungi distributed in 19 genera were obtained from eleven soil samples. Representatives of the genera Pseudogymnoascus (Ascomycota) and Mortierella (Mortierellomycota) were the most abundant isolates in all samples. The data revealed the presence of filamentous fungi belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota, rarely found in Antarctica. Analysis of the generalized linear models revealed that the distance from the glacier as well as phosphorus and clay were able to modify the distribution of fungal species. Environmental variations proved to have influenced the genera Pseudogymnoascus and Pseudeutorium.
Project description:Recent studies of Asian glaciers have shown that glaciers in eastern Karakoram and West Kunlun have been slightly gaining mass while those in nearby Jammu Kashmir and Himalayas are losing mass, at rates of more than 0.5?m w.e.yr-1 and about 0.3?m w.e.yr-1, respectively. Two possible explanations have been proposed for this difference in glacier behaviour: spatial heterogeneity in climate change (climatic forcing) or differing glacier responses to climate change (glacier response). However, neither explanation has strong supporting evidence. Here, we examine the glacial response by calculating the mass-balance sensitivity to temperature change in high-mountain Asia. In support of the glacier-response explanation, we find a strong correlation between observed glacier surface-elevation changes and mass-balance sensitivity of glaciers. The high coefficient of determination (R2?=?0.61) suggests that spatially heterogeneous mass-balance sensitivity has more explanatory power than regionally different climate change for the recent contrasting glacier fluctuations in the high mountain Asia.
Project description:Glacial ice surfaces represent a seasonally evolving three-dimensional photic zone which accumulates microbial biomass and potentiates positive feedbacks in ice melt. Since viruses are abundant in glacial systems and may exert controls on supraglacial bacterial production, we examined whether changes in resource availability would promote changes in the bacterial community and the dynamics between viruses and bacteria of meltwater from the photic zone of a Svalbard glacier. Our results indicated that, under ambient nutrient conditions, low estimated viral decay rates account for a strong viral control of bacterial productivity, incurring a potent viral shunt of a third of bacterial carbon in the supraglacial microbial loop. Moreover, it appears that virus particles are very stable in supraglacial meltwater, raising the prospect that viruses liberated in melt are viable downstream. However, manipulating resource availability as dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous in experimental microcosms demonstrates that the photic zone bacterial communities can escape viral control. This is evidenced by a marked decline in virus-to-bacterium ratio (VBR) concomitant with increased bacterial productivity and number. Pyrosequencing shows a few bacterial taxa, principally Janthinobacterium sp., dominate both the source meltwater and microcosm communities. Combined, our results suggest that viruses maintain high VBR to promote contact with low-density hosts, by the manufacture of robust particles, but that this necessitates a trade-off which limits viral production. Consequently, dominant bacterial taxa appear to access resources to evade viral control. We propose that a delicate interplay of bacterial and viral strategies affects biogeochemical cycling upon glaciers and, ultimately, downstream ecosystems.