Evidence for successional development in Antarctic hypolithic bacterial communities.
ABSTRACT: Hypoliths (cryptic microbial assemblages that develop on the undersides of translucent rocks) are significant contributors to regional C and N budgets in both hot and cold deserts. Previous studies in the Dry Valleys of Eastern Antarctica have reported three morphologically distinct hypolithic community types: cyanobacteria dominated (type I), fungus dominated (type II) and moss dominated (type III). Here we present terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses to elucidate the bacterial community structure in hypolithons and the surrounding soils. We show clear and robust distinction in bacterial composition between bulk surface soils and hypolithons. Moreover, the bacterial assemblages were similar in types II and III hypolithons and clearly distinct from those found in type I. Through 16S rRNA gene 454 pyrosequencing, we show that Proteobacteria dominated all three types of hypolithic communities. As expected, Cyanobacteria were more abundant in type I hypolithons, whereas Actinobacteria were relatively more abundant in types II and III hypolithons, and were the dominant group in soils. Using a probabilistic dissimilarity metric and random sampling, we demonstrate that deterministic processes are more important in shaping the structure of the bacterial community found in types II and III hypolithons. Most notably, the data presented in this study suggest that hypolithic bacterial communities establish via a successional model, with the type I hypolithons acting as the basal development state.
Project description:The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are an extreme polar desert. Mineral soils support subsurface microbial communities and translucent rocks support development of hypolithic communities on ventral surfaces in soil contact. Despite significant research attention, relatively little is known about taxonomic and functional diversity or their inter-relationships. Here we report a combined diversity and functional interrogation for soil and hypoliths of the Miers Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The study employed 16S rRNA fingerprinting and high throughput sequencing combined with the GeoChip functional microarray. The soil community was revealed as a highly diverse reservoir of bacterial diversity dominated by actinobacteria. Hypolithic communities were less diverse and dominated by cyanobacteria. Major differences in putative functionality were that soil communities displayed greater diversity in stress tolerance and recalcitrant substrate utilization pathways, whilst hypolithic communities supported greater diversity of nutrient limitation adaptation pathways. A relatively high level of functional redundancy in both soil and hypoliths may indicate adaptation of these communities to fluctuating environmental conditions.
Project description:The soils of East Antarctica have no rhizosphere with the bulk of organo-mineral interactions confined to the thin microbial and cryptogamic crusts that occur in open or cryptic niches and are collectively known as biological soil crust (BSC). Here we demonstrate that cryptic hypolithic varieties of BSC in the Larsemann Hills of East Antarctica contribute to the buildup of soil organic matter and produce several types of continuous organogenous horizons within the topsoil with documented clusters of at least 100 m2. Such hypolithic horizons accumulate 0.06-4.69% of organic carbon (TOC) with isotopic signatures (?13Corg) within the range of -30.2 - -24.0‰, and contain from 0 to 0.38% total nitrogen (TN). The properties of hypolithic organic matter alternate between cyanobacteria- and moss-dominated horizons, which are linked to the meso- and microtopography patterns and moisture gradients. The major part of TOC that is stored in hypolithic horizons has modern or centenary 14C age, while the minor part is stabilized on a millennial timescale through shallow burial and association with minerals. Our findings suggest that hypolithic communities create a "gateway" for organic carbon to enter depauperate soils of the Larsemann Hills and contribute to the carbon reservoir of the topsoil at a landscape level.
Project description:The metaviromes of two distinct Antarctic hyperarid desert soil communities have been characterized. Hypolithic communities, cyanobacterium-dominated assemblages situated on the ventral surfaces of quartz pebbles embedded in the desert pavement, showed higher virus diversity than surface soils, which correlated with previous bacterial community studies. Prokaryotic viruses (i.e., phages) represented the largest viral component (particularly Mycobacterium phages) in both habitats, with an identical hierarchical sequence abundance of families of tailed phages (Siphoviridae > Myoviridae > Podoviridae). No archaeal viruses were found. Unexpectedly, cyanophages were poorly represented in both metaviromes and were phylogenetically distant from currently characterized cyanophages. Putative phage genomes were assembled and showed a high level of unaffiliated genes, mostly from hypolithic viruses. Moreover, unusual gene arrangements in which eukaryotic and prokaryotic virus-derived genes were found within identical genome segments were observed. Phycodnaviridae and Mimiviridae viruses were the second-most-abundant taxa and more numerous within open soil. Novel virophage-like sequences (within the Sputnik clade) were identified. These findings highlight high-level virus diversity and novel species discovery potential within Antarctic hyperarid soils and may serve as a starting point for future studies targeting specific viral groups.
Project description:Understanding microbial adaptation to environmental stressors is crucial for interpreting broader ecological patterns. In the most extreme hot and cold deserts, cryptic niche communities are thought to play key roles in ecosystem processes and represent excellent model systems for investigating microbial responses to environmental stressors. However, relatively little is known about the genetic diversity underlying such functional processes in climatically extreme desert systems. This study presents the first comparative metagenome analysis of cyanobacteria-dominated hypolithic communities in hot (Namib Desert, Namibia) and cold (Miers Valley, Antarctica) hyperarid deserts. The most abundant phyla in both hypolith metagenomes were Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes with Cyanobacteria dominating in Antarctic hypoliths. However, no significant differences between the two metagenomes were identified. The Antarctic hypolithic metagenome displayed a high number of sequences assigned to sigma factors, replication, recombination and repair, translation, ribosomal structure, and biogenesis. In contrast, the Namib Desert metagenome showed a high abundance of sequences assigned to carbohydrate transport and metabolism. Metagenome data analysis also revealed significant divergence in the genetic determinants of amino acid and nucleotide metabolism between these two metagenomes and those of soil from other polar deserts, hot deserts, and non-desert soils. Our results suggest extensive niche differentiation in hypolithic microbial communities from these two extreme environments and a high genetic capacity for survival under environmental extremes.
Project description:The Great Salt Plains (GSP) of Oklahoma is a natural inland terrestrial hypersaline environment that forms evaporite crusts of mainly NaCl. Previous work described GSP bacterial assemblages through the phylogenetic and phenetic characterization of 105 isolates from 46 phylotypes. The current report describes the same bacterial assemblages through culture-independent 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. Although from similar hypersaline mud flats, the bacterial libraries from two sites, WP3 and WP6, were quite different. The WP3 library was dominated by cyanobacteria, mainly Cyanothece and Euhalothece. The WP6 library was rich in anaerobic sulfur-cycle organisms, including abundant Desulfuromonas. This pattern likely reflects differences in abiotic factors, such as frequency of flooding and hydrologic push. While more than 100 OTUs were identified, the assemblages were not as diverse, based on Shannon indexes, as bacterial communities from oligohaline soils. Since natural inland hypersaline soils are relatively unstudied, it was not clear what kind of bacteria would be present. The bacterial assemblage is predominantly genera typically found in hypersaline systems, although some were relatives of microbes common in oligohaline and marine environments. The bacterial clones did not reflect wide functional diversity, beyond phototrophs, sulfur metabolizers, and numerous heterotrophs.
Project description:Hypoliths, microbial assemblages found below translucent rocks, provide important ecosystem services in deserts. While several studies have assessed microbial diversity of hot desert hypoliths and whether these communities are metabolically active, the interactions among taxa remain unclear. Here, we assessed the structure, diversity, and co-occurrence patterns of hypolithic communities from the hyperarid Namib Desert by comparing total (DNA) and potentially active (RNA) communities. The potentially active and total hypolithic communities differed in their composition and diversity, with significantly higher levels of Cyanobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria in potentially active hypoliths. Several phyla known to be abundant in total hypolithic communities were metabolically inactive, indicating that some hypolithic taxa may be dormant or dead. The potentially active hypolith network was highly modular in structure with almost exclusively positive co-occurrences (>95% of the total) between taxa. Members of the Cyanobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria were identified as potential keystone taxa, and exhibited numerous positive co-occurrences with other microbes, suggesting that these groups might have important roles in maintaining network topological structure despite their low abundance.
Project description:Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) occur within drylands throughout the world, covering ~12% of the global terrestrial soil surface. Their occurrence in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula has rarely been reported and their spatial distribution, diversity, and microbial composition remained largely unexplored. We investigated biocrusts at six different locations in the coastal and central deserts of Oman. The biocrust types were characterized, and the bacterial and fungal community compositions of biocrusts and uncrusted soils were analysed by amplicon sequencing. The results were interpreted based on the environmental parameters of the different sites. Whereas at lowland sites, mainly cyanobacteria-dominated biocrusts were observed, both cyanobacteria- and lichen-dominated biocrusts occurred at mountain sites. The majority of bacterial sequences (32-83% of total sequences) belonged to Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes, whereas fungal sequences belonged to Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Chytridiomycota (>95%). With biocrust development, a notable increase in cyanobacterial and decrease in actinobacterial proportions was observed for cyanobacteria-dominated crusts. In coastal areas, where salinity is high, biocrusts were replaced by a unique marine mat-like microbial community, dominated by halotolerant taxa. Redundancy analysis revealed a significant contribution of soil texture, cover type, carbon content, and elevation to the variations in bacterial and fungal communities. Multivariate analysis placed microbial communities in significantly separated clusters based on their carbon content, elevation and electrical conductivity. We conclude that Oman hosts a variety of cyanobacteria- and lichen-dominated crusts with their bacterial and fungal communities being largely dictated by soil properties and environmental parameters.
Project description:Quartz stones are ubiquitous in deserts and are a substrate for hypoliths, microbial colonists of the underside of such stones. These hypoliths thrive where extreme temperature and moisture stress limit the occurrence of higher plant and animal life. Several studies have reported the occurrence of green hypolithic colonization dominated by cyanobacteria. Here, we describe a novel red hypolithic colonization from Yungay, at the hyper-arid core of the Atacama Desert in Chile. Comparative analysis of green and red hypoliths from this site revealed markedly different microbial community structure as revealed by 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. Green hypoliths were dominated by cyanobacteria (Chroococcidiopsis and Nostocales phylotypes), whilst the red hypolith was dominated by a taxonomically diverse group of chloroflexi. Heterotrophic phylotypes common to all hypoliths were affiliated largely to desiccation-tolerant taxa within the Actinobacteria and Deinococci. Alphaproteobacterial phylotypes that affiliated with nitrogen-fixing taxa were unique to green hypoliths, whilst Gemmatimonadetes phylotypes occurred only on red hypolithon. Other heterotrophic phyla recovered with very low frequency were assumed to represent functionally relatively unimportant taxa.
Project description:Little is known about the effects of bacterial community on iron (Fe) and phosphorus (P) cycles in sediments under different primary producer habitats in different seasons. Lake Taihu has both the cyanobacteria- and macrophyte-dominated lake zones. In this work, the abundance and structure of bacterial community was investigated using qPCR and 16S rRNA gene high throughput sequencing, respectively. Compared with the sediments in the cyanobacteria-dominated lake zone, sediments in the macrophyte-dominated lake zone had higher TP, TOC and TN contents but lower DO and Eh values. Dissolved reactive P, dissolved Fe, and their molar ratios (Fe/P) were lower in the sediments of the cyanobacteria-dominated lake zone than those in the macrophyte-dominated lake zone. Consistent with this was the significantly lower abundance of total and typical Fe redox transforming bacteria in the sediment of the cyanobacteria-dominated lake zone than those in the macrophyte-dominated lake zone. Correlation analyses also revealed positive influence of abundances of total bacteria and typical Fe reducing bacteria on dissolved Fe and Fe/P ratio. The results showed that, in the cyanobacteria-dominated open water zone, Acidimicrobiaceae was capable of Fe metabolism, contributing to higher P flux in summer. In the cyanobacteria-dominated bay, Sva0081 sediment group and Desulfobulbaceae could transform sulfate to sulfide, which resulted in the reduction of Fe (III), while in the macrophyte-dominated zones, Clostridium sensu stricto 1 could couple oxidation of organic carbon with the reduction of Fe (III). The present study adds new knowledge linking the bacterial communities with the physicochemical cycles of Fe and P in sediments under different primary producer habitats.
Project description:The most familiar icy environments, seasonal lake and stream ice, have received little microbiological study. Bacteria and Eukarya dominated the microbial assemblage within the seasonal ice of Miquelon Lake, a shallow saline lake in Alberta, Canada. The bacterial assemblages were moderately diverse and did not vary with either ice depth or time. The closest relatives of the bacterial sequences from the ice included Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Cyanobacteria. The eukaryotic assemblages were less conserved and had very low diversity. Green algae relatives dominated the eukaryotic gene sequences; however, a copepod and cercozoan were also identified, possibly indicating the presence of complete microbial loop. The persistence of a chlorophyll a peak at 25-30 cm below the ice surface, despite ice migration and brine flushing, indicated possible biological activity within the ice. This is the first study of the composition, diversity, and stability of seasonal lake ice.