Watershed-scale fungal community characterization along a pH gradient in a subsurface environment cocontaminated with uranium and nitrate.
ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to characterize fungal communities in a subsurface environment cocontaminated with uranium and nitrate at the watershed scale and to determine the potential contribution of fungi to contaminant transformation (nitrate attenuation). The abundance, distribution, and diversity of fungi in subsurface groundwater samples were determined using quantitative and semiquantitative molecular techniques, including quantitative PCR of eukaryotic small-subunit rRNA genes and pyrosequencing of fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions. Potential bacterial and fungal denitrification was assessed in sediment-groundwater slurries amended with antimicrobial compounds and in fungal pure cultures isolated from the subsurface. Our results demonstrate that subsurface fungal communities are dominated by members of the phylum Ascomycota, and a pronounced shift in fungal community composition occurs across the groundwater pH gradient at the field site, with lower diversity observed under acidic (pH <4.5) conditions. Fungal isolates recovered from subsurface sediments, including cultures of the genus Coniochaeta, which were detected in abundance in pyrosequence libraries of site groundwater samples, were shown to reduce nitrate to nitrous oxide. Denitrifying fungal isolates recovered from the site were classified and found to be distributed broadly within the phylum Ascomycota and within a single genus of the Basidiomycota. Potential denitrification rate assays with sediment-groundwater slurries showed the potential for subsurface fungi to reduce nitrate to nitrous oxide under in situ acidic pH conditions.
Project description:Members of the Fungi convert nitrate (NO3 (-)) and nitrite (NO2 (-)) to gaseous nitrous oxide (N2O) (denitrification), but the fungal contributions to N loss from soil remain uncertain. Cultivation-based methodologies that include antibiotics to selectively assess fungal activities have limitations, and complementary molecular approaches to assign denitrification potential to fungi are desirable. Microcosms established with soils from two representative U.S. Midwest agricultural regions produced N2O from added NO3 (-) or NO2 (-) in the presence of antibiotics to inhibit bacteria. Cultivation efforts yielded 214 fungal isolates belonging to at least 15 distinct morphological groups, 151 of which produced N2O from NO2 (-) Novel PCR primers targeting the p450nor gene, which encodes the nitric oxide (NO) reductase responsible for N2O production in fungi, yielded 26 novel p450nor amplicons from DNA of 37 isolates and 23 amplicons from environmental DNA obtained from two agricultural soils. The sequences shared 54 to 98% amino acid identity with reference P450nor sequences within the phylum Ascomycota and expand the known fungal P450nor sequence diversity. p450nor was detected in all fungal isolates that produced N2O from NO2 (-), whereas nirK (encoding the NO-forming NO2 (-) reductase) was amplified in only 13 to 74% of the N2O-forming isolates using two separate nirK primer sets. Collectively, our findings demonstrate the value of p450nor-targeted PCR to complement existing approaches to assess the fungal contributions to denitrification and N2O formation.A comprehensive understanding of the microbiota controlling soil N loss and greenhouse gas (N2O) emissions is crucial for sustainable agricultural practices and addressing climate change concerns. We report the design and application of a novel PCR primer set targeting fungal p450nor, a biomarker for fungal N2O production, and demonstrate the utility of the new approach to assess fungal denitrification potential in fungal isolates and agricultural soils. These new PCR primers may find application in a variety of biomes to assess the fungal contributions to N loss and N2O emissions.
Project description:Fungi are one important group of eukaryotic microorganisms in a diverse range of ecosystems, but their diversity in groundwater ecosystems is largely unknown. We used DNA-based pyro-tag sequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA gene to investigate the presence and community structure of fungi at different sampling sites of two superimposed limestone aquifers ranging from 8.5 to 84 m depth in the newly established Hainich Critical Zone Exploratory (Hainich CZE). We detected a diversity of fungal OTUs in groundwater samples of all sampling sites. The relative percentage abundance of Basidiomycota was higher in the upper aquifer assemblage, whilst Ascomycota dominated the lower one. In parallel to differences in the hydrochemistry we found distinct fungal communities at all sampling sites. Classification into functional groups revealed an overwhelming majority of saprotrophs. Finding taxa common to all analyzed groundwater sites, point to a groundwater specific fungal microbiome. The presence of different functional groups and, in particular plant and cattle pathogens that are not typical of subsurface habitats, suggests links between the surface and subsurface biogeosphere due to rapid transportation across the fracture networks typical of karstic regions during recharge episodes. However, further studies including sampling series extended in both time and space are necessary to confirm this hypothesis.
Project description:In terrestrial subsurface environments where nitrate is a critical groundwater contaminant, few cultivated representatives are available to verify the metabolism of organisms that catalyze denitrification. In this study, five species of denitrifying bacteria from three phyla were isolated from subsurface sediments exposed to metal radionuclide and nitrate contamination as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Challenge (OR-IFRC). Isolates belonged to the genera Afipia and Hyphomicrobium (Alphaproteobacteria), Rhodanobacter (Gammaproteobacteria), Intrasporangium (Actinobacteria), and Bacillus (Firmicutes). Isolates from the phylum Proteobacteria were complete denitrifiers, whereas the Gram-positive isolates reduced nitrate to nitrous oxide. rRNA gene analyses coupled with physiological and genomic analyses suggest that bacteria from the genus Rhodanobacter are a diverse population of denitrifiers that are circumneutral to moderately acidophilic, with a high relative abundance in areas of the acidic source zone at the OR-IFRC site. Based on genome analysis, Rhodanobacter species contain two nitrite reductase genes and have not been detected in functional-gene surveys of denitrifying bacteria at the OR-IFRC site. Nitrite and nitrous oxide reductase gene sequences were recovered from the isolates and from the terrestrial subsurface by designing primer sets mined from genomic and metagenomic data and from draft genomes of two of the isolates. We demonstrate that a combination of cultivation and genomic and metagenomic data is essential to the in situ characterization of denitrifiers and that current PCR-based approaches are not suitable for deep coverage of denitrifiers. Our results indicate that the diversity of denitrifiers is significantly underestimated in the terrestrial subsurface.
Project description:The diversity and functional role of fungi, one of the ecologically most important groups of eukaryotic microorganisms, remains largely unknown in deep biosphere environments. In this study we investigated fungal communities in packer-isolated bedrock fractures in Olkiluoto, Finland at depths ranging from 296 to 798 m below surface level. DNA- and cDNA-based high-throughput amplicon sequencing analysis of the fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) gene markers was used to examine the total fungal diversity and to identify the active members in deep fracture zones at different depths. Results showed that fungi were present in fracture zones at all depths and fungal diversity was higher than expected. Most of the observed fungal sequences belonged to the phylum Ascomycota. Phyla Basidiomycota and Chytridiomycota were only represented as a minor part of the fungal community. Dominating fungal classes in the deep bedrock aquifers were Sordariomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, and Dothideomycetes from the Ascomycota phylum and classes Microbotryomycetes and Tremellomycetes from the Basidiomycota phylum, which are the most frequently detected fungal taxa reported also from deep sea environments. In addition some fungal sequences represented potentially novel fungal species. Active fungi were detected in most of the fracture zones, which proves that fungi are able to maintain cellular activity in these oligotrophic conditions. Possible roles of fungi and their origin in deep bedrock groundwater can only be speculated in the light of current knowledge but some species may be specifically adapted to deep subsurface environment and may play important roles in the utilization and recycling of nutrients and thus sustaining the deep subsurface microbial community.
Project description:Background:Denitrification is one of the main pathways of the N-cycle, during which nitrate is converted to dinitrogen gas, in four consecutive reactions that are each catalyzed by a different metalloenzyme. One of the intermediate metabolites is nitrous oxide, which has a global warming impact greater then carbon dioxide and which atmospheric concentration has been increasing in the last years. The four denitrification enzymes have been isolated and biochemically characterized from Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus in our lab. Methods:Bioinformatic analysis of the M. hydrocarbonoclasticus genome to identify the genes involved in the denitrification pathway. The relative gene expression of the gene encoding the catalytic subunits of those enzymes was analyzed during the growth under microoxic conditions. The consumption of nitrate and nitrite, and the reduction of nitric oxide and nitrous oxide by whole-cells was monitored during anoxic and microoxic growth in the presence of 10 mM sodium nitrate at pH 7.5. Results:The bioinformatic analysis shows that genes encoding the enzymes and accessory factors required for each step of the denitrification pathway are clustered together. An unusual feature is the co-existence of genes encoding a q- and a c-type nitric oxide reductase, with only the latter being transcribed at similar levels as the ones encoding the catalytic subunits of the other denitrifying enzymes, when cells are grown in the presence of nitrate under microoxic conditions. Using either a batch- or a closed system, nitrate is completely consumed in the beginning of the growth, with transient formation of nitrite, and whole-cells can reduce nitric oxide and nitrous oxide from mid-exponential phase until being collected (time-point 50 h). Discussion:M. hydrocarbonoclasticus cells can reduce nitric and nitrous oxide in vivo, indicating that the four denitrification steps are active. Gene expression profile together with promoter regions analysis indicates the involvement of a cascade regulatory mechanism triggered by FNR-type in response to low oxygen tension, with nitric oxide and nitrate as secondary effectors, through DNR and NarXL, respectively. This global characterization of the denitrification pathway of a strict marine bacterium, contributes to the understanding of the N-cycle and nitrous oxide release in marine environments.
Project description:In this paper we describe denitrification at extremely high salt and pH in sediments from hypersaline alkaline soda lakes and soda soils. Experiments with sediment slurries demonstrated the presence of acetate-utilizing denitrifying populations active at in situ conditions. Anaerobic enrichment cultures at pH 10 and 4 M total Na(+) with acetate as electron donor and nitrate, nitrite and N(2)O as electron acceptors resulted in the dominance of Gammaproteobacteria belonging to the genus Halomonas. Both mixed and pure culture studies identified nitrite and N(2)O reduction as rate-limiting steps in the denitrification process at extremely haloalkaline conditions.
Project description:Biogeochemical reactions occur unevenly in space and time, but this heterogeneity is often simplified as a linear average due to sparse data, especially in subsurface environments where access is limited. For example, little is known about the spatial variability of groundwater denitrification, an important process in removing nitrate originating from agriculture and land use conversion. Information about the rate, arrangement, and extent of denitrification is needed to determine sustainable limits of human activity and to predict recovery time frames. Here, we developed and validated a method for inferring the spatial organization of sequential biogeochemical reactions in an aquifer in France. We applied it to five other aquifers in different geological settings located in the United States and compared results among 44 locations across the six aquifers to assess the generality of reactivity trends. Of the sampling locations, 79% showed pronounced increases of reactivity with depth. This suggests that previous estimates of denitrification have underestimated the capacity of deep aquifers to remove nitrate, while overestimating nitrate removal in shallow flow paths. Oxygen and nitrate reduction likely increases with depth because there is relatively little organic carbon in agricultural soils and because excess nitrate input has depleted solid phase electron donors near the surface. Our findings explain the long-standing conundrum of why apparent reaction rates of oxygen in aquifers are typically smaller than those of nitrate, which is energetically less favorable. This stratified reactivity framework is promising for mapping vertical reactivity trends in aquifers, generating new understanding of subsurface ecosystems and their capacity to remove contaminants.
Project description:Peatlands cover more than 30% of the Finnish land area and impact N2O fluxes. Denitrifiers release N2O as an intermediate or end product. In situ N2O emissions of a near pH neutral pristine fen soil in Finnish Lapland were marginal during gas chamber measurements. However, nitrate and ammonium fertilization significantly stimulated in situ N2O emissions. Stimulation with nitrate was stronger than with ammonium. N2O was produced and subsequently consumed in gas chambers. In unsupplemented anoxic microcosms, fen soil produced N2O only when acetylene was added to block nitrous oxide reductase, suggesting complete denitrification. Nitrate and nitrite stimulated denitrification in fen soil, and maximal reaction velocities (vmax) of nitrate or nitrite dependent denitrification where 18 and 52 nmol N2O h-1 gDW-1, respectively. N2O was below 30% of total produced N gases in fen soil when concentrations of nitrate and nitrite were <500 ?M. vmax for N2O consumption was up to 36 nmol N2O h-1 gDW-1. Denitrifier diversity was assessed by analyses of narG, nirK/nirS, and nosZ (encoding nitrate-, nitrite-, and nitrous oxide reductases, respectively) by barcoded amplicon pyrosequencing. Analyses of ~14,000 quality filtered sequences indicated up to 25 species-level operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and up to 359 OTUs at 97% sequence similarity, suggesting diverse denitrifiers. Phylogenetic analyses revealed clusters distantly related to publicly available sequences, suggesting hitherto unknown denitrifiers. Representatives of species-level OTUs were affiliated with sequences of unknown soil bacteria and Actinobacterial, Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Delta-Proteobacterial sequences. Comparison of the 4 gene markers at 97% similarity indicated a higher diversity of narG than for the other gene markers based on Shannon indices and observed number of OTUs. The collective data indicate (i) a high denitrification and N2O consumption potential, and (ii) a highly diverse, nitrate limited denitrifier community associated with potential N2O fluxes in a pH-neutral fen soil.
Project description:The fungal kingdom is replete with unique adaptive capacities that allow fungi to colonize a wide variety of habitats, ranging from marine habitats to freshwater and terrestrial habitats. The diversity, importance, and ecological roles of marine fungi have recently been highlighted in deep-subsurface sediments using molecular methods. Fungi in the deep-marine subsurface may be specifically adapted to life in the deep biosphere, but this can be demonstrated only using culture-based analyses. In this study, we investigated culturable fungal communities from a record-depth sediment core sampled from the Canterbury Basin (New Zealand) with the aim to reveal endemic or ubiquist adapted isolates playing a significant ecological role(s). About 200 filamentous fungi (68%) and yeasts (32%) were isolated. Fungal isolates were affiliated with the phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, including 21 genera. Screening for genes involved in secondary metabolite synthesis also revealed their bioactive compound synthesis potential. Our results provide evidence that deep-subsurface fungal communities are able to survive, adapt, grow, and interact with other microbial communities and highlight that the deep-sediment habitat is another ecological niche for fungi.
Project description:Removal of excess nitrogen (N) can best be achieved through denitrification processes that transform N in water and terrestrial ecosystems to di-nitrogen (N2) gas. The greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) is considered an intermediate or end-product in denitrification pathways. Both abiotic and biotic denitrification processes use a single N source to form N2O. However, N2 can be formed from two distinct N sources (known as hybrid N2) through biologically mediated processes of anammox and codenitrification. We questioned if hybrid N2 produced during fungal incubation at neutral pH could be attributed to abiotic nitrosation and if N2O was consumed during N2 formation. Experiments with gas chromatography indicated N2 was formed in the presence of live and dead fungi and in the absence of fungi, while N2O steadily increased. We used isotope pairing techniques and confirmed abiotic production of hybrid N2 under both anoxic and 20% O2 atmosphere conditions. Our findings question the assumptions that (1) N2O is an intermediate required for N2 formation, (2) production of N2 and N2O requires anaerobiosis, and (3) hybrid N2 is evidence of codenitrification and/or anammox. The N cycle framework should include abiotic production of N2.