Bacterial and fungal communities in a degraded ombrotrophic peatland undergoing natural and managed re-vegetation.
ABSTRACT: The UK hosts 15-19% of global upland ombrotrophic (rain fed) peatlands that are estimated to store 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and represent a critical upland habitat with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. Net production is dependent on an imbalance between growth of peat-forming Sphagnum mosses and microbial decomposition by microorganisms that are limited by cold, acidic, and anaerobic conditions. In the Southern Pennines, land-use change, drainage, and over 200 years of anthropogenic N and heavy metal deposition have contributed to severe peatland degradation manifested as a loss of vegetation leaving bare peat susceptible to erosion and deep gullying. A restoration programme designed to regain peat hydrology, stability and functionality has involved re-vegetation through nurse grass, dwarf shrub and Sphagnum re-introduction. Our aim was to characterise bacterial and fungal communities, via high-throughput rRNA gene sequencing, in the surface acrotelm/mesotelm of degraded bare peat, long-term stable vegetated peat, and natural and managed restorations. Compared to long-term vegetated areas the bare peat microbiome had significantly higher levels of oligotrophic marker phyla (Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, TM6) and lower Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, together with much higher ligninolytic Basidiomycota. Fewer distinct microbial sequences and significantly fewer cultivable microbes were detected in bare peat compared to other areas. Microbial community structure was linked to restoration activity and correlated with soil edaphic variables (e.g. moisture and heavy metals). Although rapid community changes were evident following restoration activity, restored bare peat did not approach a similar microbial community structure to non-eroded areas even after 25 years, which may be related to the stabilisation of historic deposited heavy metals pollution in long-term stable areas. These primary findings are discussed in relation to bare peat oligotrophy, re-vegetation recalcitrance, rhizosphere-microbe-soil interactions, C, N and P cycling, trajectory of restoration, and ecosystem service implications for peatland restoration.
Project description:Bacteria play critical roles in peatland ecosystems. However, very little is known of how habitat heterogeneity affects the structure of the bacterial communities in these ecosystems. Here, we used amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA and nifH genes to investigate phylogenetic diversity and bacterial community composition in three different sub-Antarctic peat bog aquatic habitats: Sphagnum magellanicum interstitial water, and water from vegetated and non-vegetated pools. Total and putative nitrogen-fixing bacterial communities from Sphagnum interstitial water differed significantly from vegetated and non-vegetated pool communities (which were colonized by the same bacterial populations), probably as a result of differences in water chemistry and biotic interactions. Total bacterial communities from pools contained typically aquatic taxa, and were more dissimilar in composition and less species rich than those from Sphagnum interstitial waters (which were enriched in taxa typically from soils), probably reflecting the reduced connectivity between the former habitats. These results show that bacterial communities in peatland water habitats are highly diverse and structured by multiple concurrent factors.
Project description:Sphagnum microbiomes play an important role in the northern peatland ecosystems. However, information about above and belowground microbiomes related to Sphagnum at subtropical area remains largely limited. In this study, microbial communities from Sphagnum palustre peat, S. palustre green part, and S. palustre brown part at the Dajiuhu Peatland, in central China were investigated via 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Results indicated that Alphaproteobacteria was the dominant class in all samples, and the classes Acidobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were abundant in S. palustre peat and S. palustre brown part samples, respectively. In contrast, the class Cyanobacteria dominated in S. palustre green part samples. Microhabitat differentiation mainly contributes to structural differences of bacterial microbiome. In the S. palustre peat, microbial communities were significantly shaped by water table and total nitrogen content. Our study is a systematical investigation on above and belowground bacterial microbiome in a subalpine Sphagnum peatland and the results offer new knowledge about the distribution of bacterial microbiome associated with different microhabitats in subtropical area.
Project description:The importance of characterizing the ecohydrological interactions in natural, damaged/drained, and restored bogs is underscored by the importance of peatlands to global climate change and the growing need for peatland restoration. An understudied aspect of peatland ecohydrology is how shallow lateral flow impacts local hydrological conditions and water balance, which are critical for peatland restoration success. A novel method is presented using microcosms installed in the field to understand the dynamics of shallow lateral flow. Analysis of the difference in water table fluctuation inside and outside the microcosm experimental areas allowed the water balance to be constrained and the calculation of lateral flow and evapotranspiration. As an initial demonstration of this method, a series of four microcosm experiments were set up in locations with differing ecological quality and land management histories, on a raised bog complex in the midlands of Ireland. The timing and magnitude of the lateral flow differed considerably between locations with differing ecological conditions, indicating that shallow lateral flow is an important determining factor in the ecohydrological trajectory of a recovering bog system. For locations where Sphagnum spp. moss layer was present, a slow continuous net lateral input of water from the upstream catchment area supported the water table during drought periods, which was not observed in locations lacking Sphagnum. Consistent with other studies, evapotranspiration was greater in locations with a Spaghnum moss layer than in locations with a surface of peat soil.
Project description:Microbial N2 fixation (diazotrophy) represents an important nitrogen source to oligotrophic peatland ecosystems, which are important sinks for atmospheric CO2 and are susceptible to the changing climate. The objectives of this study were (i) to determine the active microbial group and type of nitrogenase mediating diazotrophy in an ombrotrophic Sphagnum-dominated peat bog (the S1 peat bog, Marcell Experimental Forest, Minnesota, USA); and (ii) to determine the effect of environmental parameters (light, O2, CO2, and CH4) on potential rates of diazotrophy measured by acetylene (C2H2) reduction and 15N2 incorporation. A molecular analysis of metabolically active microbial communities suggested that diazotrophy in surface peat was primarily mediated by Alphaproteobacteria (Bradyrhizobiaceae and Beijerinckiaceae). Despite higher concentrations of dissolved vanadium ([V] 11 nM) than molybdenum ([Mo] 3 nM) in surface peat, a combination of metagenomic, amplicon sequencing, and activity measurements indicated that Mo-containing nitrogenases dominate over the V-containing form. Acetylene reduction was only detected in surface peat exposed to light, with the highest rates observed in peat collected from hollows with the highest water contents. Incorporation of 15N2 was suppressed 90% by O2 and 55% by C2H2 and was unaffected by CH4 and CO2 amendments. These results suggest that peatland diazotrophy is mediated by a combination of C2H2-sensitive and C2H2-insensitive microbes that are more active at low concentrations of O2 and show similar activity at high and low concentrations of CH4 IMPORTANCE Previous studies indicate that diazotrophy provides an important nitrogen source and is linked to methanotrophy in Sphagnum-dominated peatlands. However, the environmental controls and enzymatic pathways of peatland diazotrophy, as well as the metabolically active microbial populations that catalyze this process, remain in question. Our findings indicate that oxygen levels and photosynthetic activity override low nutrient availability in limiting diazotrophy and that members of the Alphaproteobacteria (Rhizobiales) catalyze this process at the bog surface using the molybdenum-based form of the nitrogenase enzyme.
Project description:Ombrotrophic peatlands are a recognized global carbon reservoir. Without restoration and peat regrowth, harvested peatlands are dramatically altered, impairing their carbon sink function, with consequences for methane turnover. Previous studies determined the impact of commercial mining on the physicochemical properties of peat and the effects on methane turnover. However, the response of the underlying microbial communities catalyzing methane production and oxidation have so far received little attention. We hypothesize that with the return of Sphagnum spp. postharvest, methane turnover potential and the corresponding microbial communities will converge in a natural and restored peatland. To address our hypothesis, we determined the potential methane production and oxidation rates in natural (as a reference), actively mined, abandoned, and restored peatlands over two consecutive years. In all sites, the methanogenic and methanotrophic population sizes were enumerated using quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays targeting the mcrA and pmoA genes, respectively. Shifts in the community composition were determined using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of the mcrA gene and a pmoA-based terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (t-RFLP) analysis, complemented by cloning and sequence analysis of the mmoX gene. Peat mining adversely affected methane turnover potential, but the rates recovered in the restored site. The recovery in potential activity was reflected in the methanogenic and methanotrophic abundances. However, the microbial community composition was altered, being more pronounced for the methanotrophs. Overall, we observed a lag between the recovery of the methanogenic/methanotrophic activity and the return of the corresponding microbial communities, suggesting that a longer duration (>15 years) is needed to reverse mining-induced effects on the methane-cycling microbial communities.IMPORTANCE Ombrotrophic peatlands are a crucial carbon sink, but this environment is also a source of methane, an important greenhouse gas. Methane emission in peatlands is regulated by methane production and oxidation catalyzed by methanogens and methanotrophs, respectively. Methane-cycling microbial communities have been documented in natural peatlands. However, less is known of their response to peat mining and of the recovery of the community after restoration. Mining exerts an adverse impact on potential methane production and oxidation rates and on methanogenic and methanotrophic population abundances. Peat mining also induced a shift in the methane-cycling microbial community composition. Nevertheless, with the return of Sphagnum spp. in the restored site after 15 years, methanogenic and methanotrophic activity and population abundance recovered well. The recovery, however, was not fully reflected in the community composition, suggesting that >15 years are needed to reverse mining-induced effects.
Project description:Peatland ecosystem services include drinking water provision, flood mitigation, habitat provision and carbon sequestration. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal is a key treatment process for the supply of potable water downstream from peat-dominated catchments. A transition from peat-forming Sphagnum moss to vascular plants has been observed in peatlands degraded by (a) land management, (b) atmospheric deposition and (c) climate change. Here within we show that the presence of vascular plants with higher annual above-ground biomass production leads to a seasonal addition of labile plant material into the peatland ecosystem as litter recalcitrance is lower. The net effect will be a smaller litter carbon pool due to higher rates of decomposition, and a greater seasonal pattern of DOC flux. Conventional water treatment involving coagulation-flocculation-sedimentation may be impeded by vascular plant-derived DOC. It has been shown that vascular plant-derived DOC is more difficult to remove via these methods than DOC derived from Sphagnum, whilst also being less susceptible to microbial mineralisation before reaching the treatment works. These results provide evidence that practices aimed at re-establishing Sphagnum moss on degraded peatlands could reduce costs and improve efficacy at water treatment works, offering an alternative to 'end-of-pipe' solutions through management of ecosystem service provision.
Project description:In peatland ecosystems, plant communities mediate a globally significant carbon store. The effects of global environmental change on plant assemblages are expected to be a factor in determining how ecosystem functions such as carbon uptake will respond. Using vegetation data from 56 Sphagnum-dominated peat bogs across Europe, we show that in these ecosystems plant species aggregate into two major clusters that are each defined by shared response to environmental conditions. Across environmental gradients, we find significant taxonomic turnover in both clusters. However, functional identity and functional redundancy of the community as a whole remain unchanged. This strongly suggests that in peat bogs, species turnover across environmental gradients is restricted to functionally similar species. Our results demonstrate that plant taxonomic and functional turnover are decoupled, which may allow these peat bogs to maintain ecosystem functioning when subject to future environmental change.
Project description:Background and aims:Peatland moss communities play an important role in ecosystem function. Drivers such as fire and atmospheric pollution have the capacity to influence mosses via multiple pathways. Here, we investigate physical and chemical processes which may influence establishment and growth of three key moss species in peatlands. Methods:A controlled factorial experiment investigated the effects of different peat bulk density, ash deposition and rainwater chemistry treatments on the growth of Sphagnum capillifolium, S. fallax and Campylopus introflexus. Results:Higher peat bulk density limited growth of both Sphagnum species. S. capillifolium and C. introflexus responded positively to ash deposition. Less polluted rain limited growth of C. introflexus. Biomass was well correlated with percentage cover in all three species. Conclusions:Peat bulk density increases caused by fire or drainage can limit Sphagnum establishment and growth, potentially threatening peatland function. Ash inputs may have direct benefits for some Sphagnum species, but are also likely to increase competition from other bryophytes and vascular plants which may offset positive effects. Rainwater pollution may similarly increase competition to Sphagnum, and could enhance positive effects of ash addition on C. introflexus growth. Finally, cover can provide a useful approximation of biomass where destructive sampling is undesirable.
Project description:Peat mosses (Sphagnum) largely govern carbon sequestration in Northern Hemisphere peatlands. We investigated functional traits related to growth and decomposition in Sphagnum species. We tested the importance of environment and phylogeny in driving species traits and investigated trade-offs among them. We selected 15 globally important Sphagnum species, representing four sections (subgenera) and a range of peatland habitats. We measured rates of photosynthesis and decomposition in standard laboratory conditions as measures of innate growth and decay potential, and related this to realized growth, production, and decomposition in their natural habitats. In general, we found support for a trade-off between measures of growth and decomposition. However, the relationships are not strong, with r ranging between 0.24 and 0.45 for different measures of growth versus decomposition. Using photosynthetic rate to predict decomposition in standard conditions yielded R (2) = 0.20. Habitat and section (phylogeny) affected the traits and the trade-offs. In a wet year, species from sections Cuspidata and Sphagnum had the highest production, but in a dry year, differences among species, sections, and habitats evened out. Cuspidata species in general produced easily decomposable litter, but their decay in the field was hampered, probably due to near-surface anoxia in their wet habitats. In a principal components analysis, PCA, photosynthetic capacity, production, and laboratory decomposition acted in the same direction. The species were imperfectly clustered according to vegetation type and phylogeny, so that some species clustered with others in the same section, whereas others clustered more clearly with others from similar vegetation types. Our study includes a wider range of species and habitats than previous trait analyses in Sphagnum and shows that while the previously described growth-decay trade-off exists, it is far from perfect. We therefore suggest that our species-specific trait measures offer opportunities for improvements of peatland ecosystem models. Innate qualities measured in laboratory conditions translate differently to field responses. Most dramatically, fast-growing species could only realize their potential in a wet year. The same species decompose fast in laboratory, but their decomposition was more retarded in the field than that of other species. These relationships are crucial for understanding the long-term dynamics of peatland communities.
Project description:Sphagnum-associated microbiomes are crucial to Sphagnum growth and peatland ecological functions. However, roles of rare species in bacterial communities across Sphagnum compartments are poorly understood. Here the structures of rare taxa (RT) and conditionally abundant and rare taxa (CART) from Sphagnum palustre peat (SP), S. palustre ectosphere (Ecto) and S. palustre endosphere (Endo) were investigated in the Dajiuhu Peatland, central China. Our results showed that plant compartment effects significantly altered the diversities and structures of bacterial communities. The Observed species and Simpson indices of RT and CART in alpha diversity significantly increased from Endo to SP, with those of Ecto in-between. The variations of community dissimilarities of RT and CART among compartments were consistent with those of whole bacterial communities (WBC). Network analysis indicated a non-random co-occurrence pattern of WBC and all keystone species are affiliated with RT and CART, indicating their important role in sustaining the WBC. Furthermore, the community structures of RT and CART in SP were significantly shaped by water table and total nitrogen content, which coincided with the correlations between WBC and environmental factors. Collectively, our results for the first time confirm the importance of rare species to bacterial communities through structural and predicted functional analyses, which expands our understanding of rare species in Sphagnum-associated microbial communities in subalpine peatlands.