Microbial Gene Abundance and Expression Patterns across a River to Ocean Salinity Gradient.
ABSTRACT: Microbial communities mediate the biogeochemical cycles that drive ecosystems, and it is important to understand how these communities are affected by changing environmental conditions, especially in complex coastal zones. As fresh and marine waters mix in estuaries and river plumes, the salinity, temperature, and nutrient gradients that are generated strongly influence bacterioplankton community structure, yet, a parallel change in functional diversity has not been described. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses were conducted on five water samples spanning the salinity gradient of the Columbia River coastal margin, including river, estuary, plume, and ocean, in August 2010. Samples were pre-filtered through 3 ?m filters and collected on 0.2 ?m filters, thus results were focused on changes among free-living microbial communities. Results from metagenomic 16S rRNA sequences showed taxonomically distinct bacterial communities in river, estuary, and coastal ocean. Despite the strong salinity gradient observed over sampling locations (0 to 33), the functional gene profiles in the metagenomes were very similar from river to ocean with an average similarity of 82%. The metatranscriptomes, however, had an average similarity of 31%. Although differences were few among the metagenomes, we observed a change from river to ocean in the abundance of genes encoding for catabolic pathways, osmoregulators, and metal transporters. Additionally, genes specifying both bacterial oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis were abundant and expressed in the estuary and plume. Denitrification genes were found throughout the Columbia River coastal margin, and most highly expressed in the estuary. Across a river to ocean gradient, the free-living microbial community followed three different patterns of diversity: 1) the taxonomy of the community changed strongly with salinity, 2) metabolic potential was highly similar across samples, with few differences in functional gene abundance from river to ocean, and 3) gene expression was highly variable and generally was independent of changes in salinity.
Project description:Analysis of microbial gene expression in response to physical and chemical gradients forming in the Columbia River, estuary, plume and coastal ocean was done in the context of the environmental data base. Gene expression was analyzed for 2,234 individual genes that were selected from fully sequenced genomes of 246 prokaryotic species (bacteria and archaea) as related to the nitrogen metabolism and carbon fixation. Seasonal molecular portraits of differential gene expression in prokaryotic communities during river-to-ocean transition were created using freshwater baseline samples (268, 270, 347, 002, 006, 207, 212). Overall design: Total RNA was isolated from 64 filtered environmental water samples collected in the Columbia River coastal margin during 4 research cruises (14 from August, 2007; 17 from November, 2007; 18 from April, 2008; and 16 from June, 2008), and analyzed using microarray hybridization with the CombiMatrix 4X2K format. Microarray targets were prepared by reverse transcription of total RNA into fluorescently labeled cDNA. All samples were hybridized in duplicate, except samples 212 and 310 (hybridized in triplicate) and samples 336, 339, 50, 152, 157, and 199 (hybridized once). Sample location codes: number shows distance from the coast in km; CR, Columbia River transect in the plume and coastal ocean; NH, Newport Hydroline transect in the coastal ocean at Newport, Oregon; AST and HAM, Columbia River estuary locations near Astoria (river mile 7-9) and Hammond (river mile 5), respectively; TID, Columbia River estuary locations in the tidal basin (river mile 22-23); BA, river location at Beaver Army Dock (river mile 53) near Quincy, Oregon; UP, river location at mile 74.
Project description:Few studies of microbial biogeography address variability across both multiple habitats and multiple seasons. Here we examine the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton community composition of the Columbia River coastal margin using 16S amplicon pyrosequencing of 300 water samples collected in 2007 and 2008. Communities separated into seven groups (ANOSIM, P<0.001): river, estuary, plume, epipelagic, mesopelagic, shelf bottom (depth<350 m) and slope bottom (depth>850 m). The ordination of these samples was correlated with salinity (?=-0.83) and depth (?=-0.62). Temporal patterns were obscured by spatial variability among the coastal environments, and could only be detected within individual groups. Thus, structuring environmental factors (for example, salinity, depth) dominate over seasonal changes in determining community composition. Seasonal variability was detected across an annual cycle in the river, estuary and plume where communities separated into two groups, early year (April-July) and late year (August-Nov), demonstrating annual reassembly of communities over time. Determining both the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton communities provides a framework for modeling these communities across environmental gradients from river to deep ocean.
Project description:Analysis of microbial gene expression in response to physical and chemical gradients forming in the Columbia River, estuary, plume and coastal ocean was done in the context of the environmental data base. Gene expression was analyzed for 2,234 individual genes that were selected from fully sequenced genomes of 246 prokaryotic species (bacteria and archaea) as related to the nitrogen metabolism and carbon fixation. Seasonal molecular portraits of differential gene expression in prokaryotic communities during river-to-ocean transition were created using freshwater baseline samples (268, 270, 347, 002, 006, 207, 212). Total RNA was isolated from 64 filtered environmental water samples collected in the Columbia River coastal margin during 4 research cruises (14 from August, 2007; 17 from November, 2007; 18 from April, 2008; and 16 from June, 2008), and analyzed using microarray hybridization with the CombiMatrix 4X2K format. Microarray targets were prepared by reverse transcription of total RNA into fluorescently labeled cDNA. All samples were hybridized in duplicate, except samples 212 and 310 (hybridized in triplicate) and samples 336, 339, 50, 152, 157, and 199 (hybridized once). Sample location codes: number shows distance from the coast in km; CR, Columbia River transect in the plume and coastal ocean; NH, Newport Hydroline transect in the coastal ocean at Newport, Oregon; AST and HAM, Columbia River estuary locations near Astoria (river mile 7-9) and Hammond (river mile 5), respectively; TID, Columbia River estuary locations in the tidal basin (river mile 22-23); BA, river location at Beaver Army Dock (river mile 53) near Quincy, Oregon; UP, river location at mile 74.
Project description:Bacterioplankton communities are deeply diverse and highly variable across space and time, but several recent studies demonstrate repeatable and predictable patterns in this diversity. We expanded on previous studies by determining patterns of variability in both individual taxa and bacterial communities across coastal environmental gradients. We surveyed bacterioplankton diversity across the Columbia River coastal margin, USA, using amplicon pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes from 596 water samples collected from 2007 to 2010. Our results showed seasonal shifts and annual reassembly of bacterioplankton communities in the freshwater-influenced Columbia River, estuary, and plume, and identified indicator taxa, including species from freshwater SAR11, Oceanospirillales, and Flavobacteria groups, that characterize the changing seasonal conditions in these environments. In the river and estuary, Actinobacteria and Betaproteobacteria indicator taxa correlated strongly with seasonal fluctuations in particulate organic carbon (?=-0.664) and residence time (?=0.512), respectively. In contrast, seasonal change in communities was not detected in the coastal ocean and varied more with the spatial variability of environmental factors including temperature and dissolved oxygen. Indicator taxa of coastal ocean environments included SAR406 and SUP05 taxa from the deep ocean, and Prochlorococcus and SAR11 taxa from the upper water column. We found that in the Columbia River coastal margin, freshwater-influenced environments were consistent and predictable, whereas coastal ocean community variability was difficult to interpret due to complex physical conditions. This study moves beyond beta-diversity patterns to focus on the occurrence of specific taxa and lends insight into the potential ecological roles these taxa have in coastal ocean environments.
Project description:Spatial and temporal patterns in microbial biodiversity across the Amazon river-ocean continuum were investigated along ?675 km of the lower Amazon River mainstem, in the Tapajós River tributary, and in the plume and coastal ocean during low and high river discharge using amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA genes in whole water and size-fractionated samples (0.2-2.0 ?m and >2.0 ?m). River communities varied among tributaries, but mainstem communities were spatially homogeneous and tracked seasonal changes in river discharge and co-varying factors. Co-occurrence network analysis identified strongly interconnected river assemblages during high (May) and low (December) discharge periods, and weakly interconnected transitional assemblages in September, suggesting that this system supports two seasonal microbial communities linked to river discharge. In contrast, plume communities showed little seasonal differences and instead varied spatially tracking salinity. However, salinity explained only a small fraction of community variability, and plume communities in blooms of diatom-diazotroph assemblages were strikingly different than those in other high salinity plume samples. This suggests that while salinity physically structures plumes through buoyancy and mixing, the composition of plume-specific communities is controlled by other factors including nutrients, phytoplankton community composition, and dissolved organic matter chemistry. Co-occurrence networks identified interconnected assemblages associated with the highly productive low salinity near-shore region, diatom-diazotroph blooms, and the plume edge region, and weakly interconnected assemblages in high salinity regions. This suggests that the plume supports a transitional community influenced by immigration of ocean bacteria from the plume edge, and by species sorting as these communities adapt to local environmental conditions. Few studies have explored patterns of microbial diversity in tropical rivers and coastal oceans. Comparison of Amazon continuum microbial communities to those from temperate and arctic systems suggest that river discharge and salinity are master variables structuring a range of environmental conditions that control bacterial communities across the river-ocean continuum.
Project description:Through their metabolic activities, microbial populations mediate the impact of high gradient regions on ecological function and productivity of the highly dynamic Columbia River coastal margin (CRCM). A 2226-probe oligonucleotide DNA microarray was developed to investigate expression patterns for microbial genes involved in nitrogen and carbon metabolism in the CRCM. Initial experiments with the environmental microarrays were directed toward validation of the platform and yielded high reproducibility in multiple tests. Bioinformatic and experimental validation also indicated that >85% of the microarray probes were specific for their corresponding target genes and for a few homologs within the same microbial family. The validated probe set was used to query gene expression responses by microbial assemblages to environmental variability. Sixty-four samples from the river, estuary, plume, and adjacent ocean were collected in different seasons and analyzed to correlate the measured variability in chemical, physical and biological water parameters to differences in global gene expression profiles. The method produced robust seasonal profiles corresponding to pre-freshet spring (April) and late summer (August). Overall relative gene expression was high in both seasons and was consistent with high microbial abundance measured by total RNA, heterotrophic bacterial production, and chlorophyll a. Both seasonal patterns involved large numbers of genes that were highly expressed relative to background, yet each produced very different gene expression profiles. April patterns revealed high differential gene expression in the coastal margin samples (estuary, plume and adjacent ocean) relative to freshwater, while little differential gene expression was observed along the river-to-ocean transition in August. Microbial gene expression profiles appeared to relate, in part, to seasonal differences in nutrient availability and potential resource competition. Furthermore, our results suggest that highly-active particle-attached microbiota in the Columbia River water column may perform dissimilatory nitrate reduction (both dentrification and DNRA) within anoxic particle microniches.
Project description:The Columbia River estuary is a dynamic system in which estuarine turbidity maxima trap and extend the residence time of particles and particle-attached bacteria over those of the water and free-living bacteria. Particle-attached bacteria dominate bacterial activity in the estuary and are an important part of the estuarine food web. PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes from particle-attached and free-living bacteria in the Columbia River, its estuary, and the adjacent coastal ocean were cloned, and 239 partial sequences were determined. A wide diversity was observed at the species level within at least six different bacterial phyla, including most subphyla of the class Proteobacteria. In the estuary, most particle-attached bacterial clones (75%) were related to members of the genus Cytophaga or of the alpha, gamma, or delta subclass of the class Proteobacteria. These same clones, however, were rare in or absent from either the particle-attached or the free-living bacterial communities of the river and the coastal ocean. In contrast, about half (48%) of the free-living estuarine bacterial clones were similar to clones from the river or the coastal ocean. These free-living bacteria were related to groups of cosmopolitan freshwater bacteria (beta-proteobacteria, gram-positive bacteria, and Verrucomicrobium spp.) and groups of marine organisms (gram-positive bacteria and alpha-proteobacteria [SAR11 and Rhodobacter spp.]). These results suggest that rapidly growing particle-attached bacteria develop into a uniquely adapted estuarine community and that free-living estuarine bacteria are similar to members of the river and the coastal ocean microbial communities. The high degree of diversity in the estuary is the result of the mixing of bacterial communities from the river, estuary, and coastal ocean.
Project description:From mid-May to August 2011, extreme runoff in the Columbia River ranged from 14,000 to over 17,000 m(3)/s, more than two standard deviations above the mean for this period. The extreme runoff was the direct result of both melting of anomalously high snowpack and rainfall associated with the 2010-2011 La Niña. The effects of this increased freshwater discharge were observed off Newport, Oregon, 180 km south of the Columbia River mouth. Salinity values as low as 22, nine standard deviations below the climatological value for this period, were registered at the mid-shelf. Using a network of ocean observing sensors and platforms, it was possible to capture the onshore advection of the Columbia River plume from the mid-shelf, 20 km offshore, to the coast and eventually into Yaquina Bay (Newport) during a sustained wind reversal event. Increased freshwater delivery can influence coastal ocean ecosystems and delivery of offshore, river-influenced water may influence estuarine biogeochemistry.
Project description:Multiple dam passage during seaward migration is thought to reduce the subsequent survival of Snake River Chinook salmon. This hypothesis developed because juvenile Chinook salmon from the Snake River, the Columbia River's largest tributary, migrate >700 km through eight hydropower dams and have lower adult return rates than downstream populations that migrate through only 3 or 4 dams. Using a large-scale telemetry array, we tested whether survival of hatchery-reared juvenile Snake River spring Chinook salmon is reduced in the estuary and coastal ocean relative to a downstream, hatchery-reared population from the Yakima River. During the initial 750-km, 1-mo-long migration through the estuary and coastal ocean, we found no evidence of differential survival; therefore, poorer adult returns of Snake River Chinook may develop far from the Columbia River. Thus, hydrosystem mitigation efforts may be ineffective if differential mortality rates develop in the North Pacific Ocean for reasons unrelated to dam passage.
Project description:In fast-flowing, river-dominated estuaries, "hotspots" of microbial biogeochemical cycling can be found within areas of extended water retention. Lateral bays located off of the North and South channels of the Columbia River estuary are proposed to be such hotspots. Previous metagenomic studies on water samples indicated that these regions function both as sources and sinks of biogenic particles, with potential to impact organic matter fluxes in the estuary. To extend this work, we analyzed 11 sediment metagenomes from three disparate bays: the freshwater Cathlamet Bay, and the brackish Youngs Bay and more saline Baker Bay located nearer the mouth to the south and north of the main channel, respectively. Samples were collected from upper layers of sediments in August of 2011 and 2013 for DNA extraction and metagenome sequencing. All metagenomes were dominated by bacterial sequences, although diatom sequences as high as 26% of the total annotated sequences were observed in the higher salinity samples. Unsupervised 2D hierarchical clustering analysis resulted in the eleven metagenome samples clustered into four groups by microbial taxonomic composition, with Bacteroides, diatom, and phage levels driving most of the grouping. Results of functional gene clustering further indicated that diatom bloom degradation stage (early vs. late) was an important factor. While the Flavobacteriia and Cytophagia classes were well represented in metagenomes containing abundant diatoms, taxa from the Bacteroidia class, along with certain members of the Sphingobacteriia class, were particularly abundant in metagenomes representing later stages of diatom decomposition. In contrast, the sediment metagenomes with low relative abundance of diatom and Bacteroidetes sequences appeared to have a metabolic potential biased toward microbial growth under nutrient limitation. While differences in water salinity clearly also influenced the microbial community composition and metabolic potential, our results highlight a central role for allochthonous labile organic matter (i.e., diatom detritus), in shaping bacterial taxonomic and functional properties in the Columbia River estuary lateral bay sediments. These results suggest that in fast-flowing, river-dominated estuaries, sediment microbial communities in areas of extended water retention, such as the lateral bays, may contribute disproportionately to estuarine organic matter degradation and recycling.