The influence of oxygen and methane on nitrogen fixation in subarctic Sphagnum mosses.
ABSTRACT: Biological nitrogen fixation is an important source of bioavailable nitrogen in Sphagnum dominated peatlands. Sphagnum mosses harbor a diverse microbiome including nitrogen-fixing and methane (CH4) oxidizing bacteria. The inhibitory effect of oxygen on microbial nitrogen fixation is documented for many bacteria. However, the role of nitrogen-fixing methanotrophs in nitrogen supply to Sphagnum peat mosses is not well explored. Here, we investigated the role of both oxygen and methane on nitrogen fixation in subarctic Sphagnum peat mosses. Five species of Sphagnum mosses were sampled from two mesotrophic and three oligotrophic sites within the Lakkasuo peatland in Orivesi, central Finland. Mosses were incubated under either ambient or low oxygen conditions in the presence or absence of methane. Stable isotope activity assays revealed considerable nitrogen-fixing and methane-assimilating rates at all sites (1.4?±?0.2 µmol 15N-N2 g-1 DW day-1 and 12.0?±?1.1 µmol 13C-CH4 g-1 DW day-1, respectively). Addition of methane did not stimulate incorporation of 15N-nitrogen into biomass, whereas oxygen depletion increased the activity of the nitrogen-fixing community. Analysis of the 16S rRNA genes at the bacterial community level showed a very diverse microbiome that was dominated by Alphaproteobacteria in all sites. Bona fide methane-oxidizing taxa were not very abundant (relative abundance less than 0.1%). Based on our results we conclude that methanotrophs did not contribute significantly to nitrogen fixation in the investigated peatlands.
Project description:Peatlands have acted as C-sinks for millennia, storing large amounts of carbon, of which a significant amount is yearly released as methane (CH4). Sphagnum mosses are a key genus in many peat ecosystems and these mosses live in close association with methane-oxidizing and nitrogen-fixing microorganisms. To disentangle mechanisms which may control Sphagnum-associated methane-oxidation and nitrogen-fixation, we applied four treatments to Sphagnum mosses from a pristine peatland in Finland: nitrogen fertilization, phosphorus fertilization, CH4 addition and light. N and P fertilization resulted in nutrient accumulation in the moss tissue, but did not increase Sphagnum growth. While net CO2 fixation rates remained unaffected in the N and P treatment, net CH4 emissions decreased because of enhanced CH4 oxidation. CH4 addition did not affect Sphagnum performance in the present set-up. Light, however, clearly stimulated the activity of associated nitrogen-fixing and methane-oxidizing microorganisms, increasing N2 fixation rates threefold and CH4 oxidation rates fivefold. This underlines the strong connection between Sphagnum and associated N2 fixation and CH4 oxidation. It furthermore indicates that phototrophy is a strong control of microbial activity, which can be directly or indirectly.
Project description:Sphagnum peatlands are important ecosystems in the methane cycle. Methane-oxidizing bacteria in these ecosystems serve as a methane filter and limit methane emissions. Yet little is known about the diversity and identity of the methanotrophs present in and on Sphagnum mosses of peatlands, and only a few isolates are known. The methanotrophic community in Sphagnum mosses, originating from a Dutch peat bog, was investigated using a pmoA microarray. A high biodiversity of both gamma- and alphaproteobacterial methanotrophs was found. With Sphagnum mosses as the inoculum, alpha- and gammaproteobacterial acidophilic methanotrophs were isolated using established and newly designed media. The 16S rRNA, pmoA, pxmA, and mmoX gene sequences showed that the alphaproteobacterial isolates belonged to the Methylocystis and Methylosinus genera. The Methylosinus species isolated are the first acid-tolerant members of this genus. Of the acidophilic gammaproteobacterial strains isolated, strain M5 was affiliated with the Methylomonas genus, and the other strain, M200, may represent a novel genus, most closely related to the genera Methylosoma and Methylovulum. So far, no acidophilic or acid-tolerant methanotrophs in the Gammaproteobacteria class are known. All strains showed the typical features of either type I or II methanotrophs and are, to the best of our knowledge, the first isolated (acidophilic or acid-tolerant) methanotrophs from Sphagnum mosses.
Project description:Sphagnum-dominated peatlands comprise a globally important pool of soil carbon (C) and are vulnerable to climate change. While peat mosses of the genus Sphagnum are known to harbor diverse microbial communities that mediate C and nitrogen (N) cycling in peatlands, the effects of climate change on Sphagnum microbiome composition and functioning are largely unknown. We investigated the impacts of experimental whole-ecosystem warming on the Sphagnum moss microbiome, focusing on N2 fixing microorganisms (diazotrophs). To characterize the microbiome response to warming, we performed next-generation sequencing of small subunit (SSU) rRNA and nitrogenase (nifH) gene amplicons and quantified rates of N2 fixation activity in Sphagnum fallax individuals sampled from experimental enclosures over 2 years in a northern Minnesota, USA bog. The taxonomic diversity of overall microbial communities and diazotroph communities, as well as N2 fixation rates, decreased with warming (p < 0.05). Following warming, diazotrophs shifted from a mixed community of Nostocales (Cyanobacteria) and Rhizobiales (Alphaproteobacteria) to predominance of Nostocales. Microbiome community composition differed between years, with some diazotroph populations persisting while others declined in relative abundance in warmed plots in the second year. Our results demonstrate that warming substantially alters the community composition, diversity, and N2 fixation activity of peat moss microbiomes, which may ultimately impact host fitness, ecosystem productivity, and C storage potential in peatlands.
Project description:Plant-associated bacteria are important for the growth and health of their host, but little is known about its functional diversity and impact on ecosystem functioning. We studied bacterial nitrogen fixation and methane oxidation from indicator Sphagnum mosses in Alpine bogs to test a hypothesis that the plant microbiome contained different functional patterns depending on their functions within the ecosystem. A high abundance and diversity of nitrogenase genes were detected, mostly specific for each Sphagnum. In contrast, methanotrophs formed highly similar patterns despite a high abundance and diversity of methane monooxygenase genes. Our hypothesis was supported by these contrasting functional patterns together with the result that the Sphagnum sporophyte contained a high proportion of specific diazotrophs (45.5%) but no potential methanotrophs. While essential for plant growth under nutrient-limited conditions, nitrogen-fixing bacteria were highly specific and transferred with the sporophyte unlike the ubiquitous methanotrophs which are important for the climate-relevant ecosystem itself.
Project description:Biological nitrogen (N) fixation is an important process supporting primary production in ecosystems, especially in those where N availability is limiting growth, such as peatlands and boreal forests. In many peatlands, peat mosses (genus Sphagnum) are the prime ecosystem engineers, and like feather mosses in boreal forests, they are associated with a diverse community of diazotrophs (N2-fixing microorganisms) that live in and on their tissue. The large variation in N2 fixation rates reported in literature remains, however, to be explained. To assess the potential roles of habitat (including nutrient concentration) and species traits (in particular litter decomposability and photosynthetic capacity) on the variability in N2 fixation rates, we compared rates associated with various Sphagnum moss species in a bog, the surrounding forest and a fen in Sweden. We found appreciable variation in N2 fixation rates among moss species and habitats, and showed that both species and habitat conditions strongly influenced N2 fixation. We here show that higher decomposition rates, as explained by lower levels of decomposition-inhibiting compounds, and higher phosphorous (P) levels, are related with higher diazotrophic activity. Combining our findings with those of other studies, we propose a conceptual model in which both species-specific traits of mosses (as related to the trade-off between rapid photosynthesis and resistance to decomposition) and P availability, explain N2 fixation rates. This is expected to result in a tight coupling between P and N cycling in peatlands.
Project description:Northern temperate forest soils and Sphagnum-dominated peatlands are a major source and sink of methane. In these ecosystems, methane is mainly oxidized by aerobic methanotrophic bacteria, which are typically found in aerated forest soils, surface peat, and Sphagnum moss. We contrasted methanotrophic bacterial diversity and abundances from the (i) organic horizon of forest soil; (ii) surface peat; and (iii) submerged Sphagnum moss from Cranesville Swamp Preserve, West Virginia, using multiplex sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA (V3 region) gene amplicons. From ~1 million reads, >50,000 unique OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Units), 29 and 34 unique sequences were detected in the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae, respectively, and 24 potential methanotrophs in the Beijerinckiaceae were also identified. Methylacidiphilum-like methanotrophs were not detected. Proteobacterial methanotrophic bacteria constitute <2% of microbiota in these environments, with the Methylocystaceae one to two orders of magnitude more abundant than the Methylococcaceae in all environments sampled. The Methylococcaceae are also less diverse in forest soil compared to the other two habitats. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling analyses indicated that the majority of methanotrophs from the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae tend to occur in one habitat only (peat or Sphagnum moss) or co-occurred in both Sphagnum moss and peat. This study provides insights into the structure of methanotrophic communities in relationship to habitat type, and suggests that peat and Sphagnum moss can influence methanotroph community structure and biogeography.
Project description:Nitrogen (N) accumulation rates in peatland ecosystems indicate significant biological atmospheric N2 fixation associated with Sphagnum mosses. Here, we show that the linkage between methanotrophic carbon cycling and N2 fixation may constitute an important mechanism in the rapid accumulation of N during the primary succession of peatlands. In our experimental stable isotope enrichment study, previously overlooked methane-induced N2 fixation explained more than one-third of the new N input in the younger peatland stages, where the highest N2 fixation rates and highest methane oxidation activities co-occurred in the water-submerged moss vegetation.
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:Peat forming Sphagnum mosses are able to prevent the dominance of vascular plants under ombrotrophic conditions by efficiently scavenging atmospherically deposited nitrogen (N). N-uptake kinetics of these mosses are therefore expected to play a key role in differential N availability, plant competition, and carbon sequestration in Sphagnum peatlands. The interacting effects of rain N concentration and exposure time on moss N-uptake rates are, however, poorly understood. We investigated the effects of N-concentration (1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 µM), N-form ((15)N-ammonium or nitrate) and exposure time (0.5, 2, 72 h) on uptake kinetics for Sphagnum magellanicum from a pristine bog in Patagonia (Argentina) and from a Dutch bog exposed to decades of N-pollution. Uptake rates for ammonium were higher than for nitrate, and N-binding at adsorption sites was negligible. During the first 0.5 h, N-uptake followed saturation kinetics revealing a high affinity (Km 3.5-6.5 µM). Ammonium was taken up 8 times faster than nitrate, whereas over 72 hours this was only 2 times. Uptake rates decreased drastically with increasing exposure times, which implies that many short-term N-uptake experiments in literature may well have overestimated long-term uptake rates and ecosystem retention. Sphagnum from the polluted site (i.e. long-term N exposure) showed lower uptake rates than mosses from the pristine site, indicating an adaptive response. Sphagnum therefore appears to be highly efficient in using short N pulses (e.g. rainfall in pristine areas). This strategy has important ecological and evolutionary implications: at high N input rates, the risk of N-toxicity seems to be reduced by lower uptake rates of Sphagnum, at the expense of its long-term filter capacity and related competitive advantage over vascular plants. As shown by our conceptual model, interacting effects of N-deposition and climate change (changes in rainfall) will seriously alter the functioning of Sphagnum peatlands.
Project description:As builders and major components of peatlands, Sphagnopsida (peat mosses) are very important organisms for ecosystems and world's climate. Nowadays many Sphagnum species as well as their habitats are largely protected, while their scientific and economic relevance remains considerable. Advanced methods of in vitro cultivation provide the potential to work in a sustainable way with peat mosses and address aspects of basic research as well as biotechnological and economical topics like biomonitoring or the production of renewable substrates for horticulture (Sphagnum farming). Here, we describe the establishment of axenic in vitro cultures of the five peat moss species Sphagnum fimbriatum Wils. and Hook., Sphagnum magellanicum Brid., Sphagnum palustre L., Sphagnum rubellum Wils. and Sphagnum subnitens Russ. and Warnst. with specific focus on large-scale cultivation of S. palustre in bioreactors. Axenic, clonal cultures were established to produce high quantities of biomass under standardized laboratory conditions. For advanced production of S. palustre we tested different cultivation techniques, growth media and inocula, and analyzed the effects of tissue disruption. While cultivation on solid medium is suitable for long term storage, submerse cultivation in liquid medium yielded highest amounts of biomass. By addition of sucrose and ammonium nitrate we were able to increase the biomass by around 10- to 30-fold within 4 weeks. The morphology of in vitro-cultivated gametophores showed similar phenotypic characteristics compared to material from the field. Thus the tested culture techniques are suitable to produce S. palustre material for basic and applied research.