Bacterial Community Assembly in a Typical Estuarine Marsh with Multiple Environmental Gradients.
ABSTRACT: Bacterial communities play essential roles in estuarine marsh ecosystems, but the interplay of ecological processes underlying their community assembly is poorly understood. Here, we studied the sediment bacterial communities along a linear gradient extending from the water-land junction toward a high marsh, using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Bacterial community compositions differed significantly between sediment transects. Physicochemical properties, particularly sediment nutrient levels (i.e., total nitrogen [TN] and available phosphorus [AP]), as well as sediment physical structure and pH (P < 0.05), were strongly associated with the overall community variations. In addition, the topological properties of bacterial cooccurrence networks varied with distance to the water-land junction. Both node- and network-level topological features revealed that the bacterial network of sediments farthest from the junction was less intense in complexity and interactions than other sediments. Phylogenetic null modeling analysis showed a progressive transition from stochastic to deterministic community assembly for the water-land junction sites toward the emerging terrestrial system. Taken together, data from this study provide a detailed outline of the distribution pattern of the sediment bacterial community across an estuarine marsh and inform the mechanisms and processes mediating bacterial community assembly in marsh soils.IMPORTANCE Salt marshes represent highly dynamic ecosystems where the atmosphere, continents, and the ocean interact. The bacterial distribution in this ecosystem is of great ecological concern, as it provides essential functions acting on ecosystem services. However, ecological processes mediating bacterial assembly are poorly understood for salt marshes, especially the ones located in estuaries. In this study, the distribution and assembly of bacterial communities in an estuarine marsh located in south Hangzhou Bay were investigated. The results revealed an intricate interplay between stochastic and deterministic processes mediating the assembly of bacterial communities in the studied gradient system. Collectively, our findings illustrate the main drivers of community assembly, taking into consideration changes in sediment abiotic variables and potential biotic interactions. Thus, we offer new insights into estuarine bacterial communities and illustrate the interplay of ecological processes shaping the assembly of bacterial communities in estuarine marsh ecosystems.
Project description:Estuarine salinity gradients are known to influence plant, bacterial and archaeal community structure. We sequenced 18S rRNA genes to investigate patterns in sediment fungal diversity (richness and evenness of taxa) and composition (taxonomic and phylogenetic) along an estuarine salinity gradient. We sampled three marshes--a salt, brackish and freshwater marsh--in Rhode Island. To compare the relative effect of the salinity gradient with that of plants, we sampled fungi in plots with Spartina patens and in plots from which plants were removed 2 years prior to sampling. The fungal sediment community was unique compared with previously sampled fungal communities; we detected more Ascomycota (78%), fewer Basidiomycota (6%) and more fungi from basal lineages (16%) (Chytridiomycota, Glomeromycota and four additional groups) than typically found in soil. Across marshes, fungal composition changed substantially, whereas fungal diversity differed only at the finest level of genetic resolution, and was highest in the intermediate, brackish marsh. In contrast, the presence of plants had a highly significant effect on fungal diversity at all levels of genetic resolution, but less of an effect on fungal composition. These results suggest that salinity (or other covarying parameters) selects for a distinctive fungal composition, and plants provide additional niches upon which taxa within these communities can specialize and coexist. Given the number of sequences from basal fungal lineages, the study also suggests that further sampling of estuarine sediments may help in understanding early fungal evolution.
Project description:Habitat reconstruction is commonly employed to restore degraded estuarine habitats and lost ecological functions. In this study, we use a combination of stable isotope analyses and macrofauna community analysis to compare the ecological structure and function between a recently constructed Spartina alterniflora salt marsh and a natural reference habitat over a 2-year period. The restored marsh was successful in providing habitat for economically and ecologically important macrofauna taxa; supporting similar or greater density, biomass, and species richness to the natural reference during all but one sampling period. Stable isotope analyses revealed that communities from the natural and the restored marshes relied on a similar diversity of food resources and that decapods had similar trophic levels. However, some generalist consumers (Palaemonetes spp. and Penaeus aztecus) were more 13C-enriched in the natural marsh, indicating a greater use of macrophyte derived organic matter relative to restored marsh counterparts. This difference was attributed to the higher quantities of macrophyte detritus and organic carbon in natural marsh sediments. Reduced marsh flooding frequency was associated with a reduction in macrofaunal biomass and decapod trophic levels. The restored marsh edge occurred at lower elevations than natural marsh edge, apparently due to reduced fetch and wind-wave exposure provided by the protective berm structures. The lower elevation of the restored marsh edge mitigated negative impacts in sampling periods with low tidal elevations that affected the natural marsh. The results of this study highlight the importance of considering sediment characteristics and elevation in salt marsh constructions.
Project description:Coastal salt marshes along the northern Gulf of Mexico shoreline received varied types and amounts of weathered oil residues after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. At the time, predicting how marsh bacterial communities would respond and/or recover to oiling and other environmental stressors was difficult because baseline information on community composition and dynamics was generally unavailable. Here, we evaluated marsh vegetation, physicochemistry, flooding frequency, hydrocarbon chemistry, and subtidal sediment bacterial communities from 16S rRNA gene surveys at 11 sites in southern Louisiana before the oil spill and resampled the same marshes three to four times over 38 months after the spill. Calculated hydrocarbon biomarker indices indicated that oil replaced native natural organic matter (NOM) originating from Spartina alterniflora and marine phytoplankton in the marshes between May 2010 and September 2010. At all the studied marshes, the major class- and order-level shifts among the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria occurred within these first 4 months, but another community shift occurred at the time of peak oiling in 2011. Two years later, hydrocarbon levels decreased and bacterial communities became more diverse, being dominated by Alphaproteobacteria (Rhizobiales), Chloroflexi (Dehalococcoidia), and Planctomycetes Compositional changes through time could be explained by NOM source differences, perhaps due to vegetation changes, as well as marsh flooding and salinity excursions linked to freshwater diversions. These findings indicate that persistent hydrocarbon exposure alone did not explain long-term community shifts.IMPORTANCE Significant deterioration of coastal salt marshes in Louisiana has been linked to natural and anthropogenic stressors that can adversely affect how ecosystems function. Although microorganisms carry out and regulate most biogeochemical reactions, the diversity of bacterial communities in coastal marshes is poorly known, with limited investigation of potential changes in bacterial communities in response to various environmental stressors. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill provided an unprecedented opportunity to study the long-term effects of an oil spill on microbial systems in marshes. Compared to previous studies, the significance of our research stems from (i) a broader geographic range of studied marshes, (ii) an extended time frame of data collection that includes prespill conditions, (iii) a more accurate procedure using biomarker indices to understand oiling, and (iv) an examination of other potential stressors linked to in situ environmental changes, aside from oil exposure.
Project description:Tidal marshes maintain elevation relative to sea level through accumulation of mineral and organic matter, yet this dynamic accumulation feedback mechanism has not been modeled widely in the context of accelerated sea-level rise. Uncertainties exist about tidal marsh resiliency to accelerated sea-level rise, reduced sediment supply, reduced plant productivity under increased inundation, and limited upland habitat for marsh migration. We examined marsh resiliency under these uncertainties using the Marsh Equilibrium Model, a mechanistic, elevation-based soil cohort model, using a rich data set of plant productivity and physical properties from sites across the estuarine salinity gradient. Four tidal marshes were chosen along this gradient: two islands and two with adjacent uplands. Varying century sea-level rise (52, 100, 165, 180 cm) and suspended sediment concentrations (100%, 50%, and 25% of current concentrations), we simulated marsh accretion across vegetated elevations for 100 years, applying the results to high spatial resolution digital elevation models to quantify potential changes in marsh distributions. At low rates of sea-level rise and mid-high sediment concentrations, all marshes maintained vegetated elevations indicative of mid/high marsh habitat. With century sea-level rise at 100 and 165 cm, marshes shifted to low marsh elevations; mid/high marsh elevations were found only in former uplands. At the highest century sea-level rise and lowest sediment concentrations, the island marshes became dominated by mudflat elevations. Under the same sediment concentrations, low salinity brackish marshes containing highly productive vegetation had slower elevation loss compared to more saline sites with lower productivity. A similar trend was documented when comparing against a marsh accretion model that did not model vegetation feedbacks. Elevation predictions using the Marsh Equilibrium Model highlight the importance of including vegetation responses to sea-level rise. These results also emphasize the importance of adjacent uplands for long-term marsh survival and incorporating such areas in conservation planning efforts.
Project description:The implementation and monitoring of management strategies is integral to protect coastal marshes from increased inundation and submergence under sea-level rise. Sediment addition is one such strategy in which sediment is added to marshes to raise relative elevations, decrease tidal inundation, and enhance ecosystem processes. This study looked at the plant and invertebrate community responses over 12 months following a sediment addition project on a salt marsh located in an urbanized estuary in southern California, USA. This salt marsh is experiencing local subsidence, is sediment-limited from landscape modifications, has resident protected species, and is at-risk of submergence from sea-level rise. Abiotic measurements, invertebrate cores, and plant parameters were analyzed before and after sediment application in a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design. Immediately following the sediment application, plant cover and invertebrate abundance decreased significantly, with smothering of existing vegetation communities without regrowth, presumably creating resulting harsh abiotic conditions. At six months after the sediment application treatment, Salicornia bigelovii minimally colonized the sediment application area, and Spartina foliosa spread vegetatively from the edges of the marsh; however, at 12 months following sediment application overall plant recovery was still minimal. Community composition of infaunal invertebrates shifted from a dominance of marsh-associated groups like oligochaetes and polychaetes to more terrestrial and more mobile dispersers like insect larvae. In contrast to other studies, such as those with high organic deposition, that showed vegetation and invertebrate community recovery within one year of sediment application, our results indicated a much slower recovery following a sediment addition of 32 cm which resulted in a supratidal elevation with an average of 1.62 m (NAVD88) at our sampling locations. Our results indicate that the site did not recover after one year and that recovery may take longer which illustrates the importance of long-term monitoring to fully understand restoration trajectories and inform adaptive management. Testing and monitoring sea-level rise adaptation strategies like sediment addition for salt marshes is important to prevent the loss of important coastal ecosystems.
Project description:Community assembly theories such as species sorting theory provide a framework for understanding the structures and dynamics of local communities. The effect of theoretical mechanisms can vary with the scales of observation and effects of specific environmental factors. Based on 16S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing, different structures and temporal succession patterns were discovered between the surface sediments and bottom water microbial communities in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE). The microbial communities in the surface sediment samples were more diverse than those in the bottom water samples, and several genera were specific for the water or sediment communities. Moreover, water temperature was identified as the main variable driving community dynamics and the microbial communities in the sediment showed a greater temporal change. We speculate that nutrient-based species sorting and bacterial plasticity to the temperature contribute to the variations observed between sediment and water communities in the PRE. This study provides a more comprehensive understanding of the microbial community structures in a highly dynamic estuarine system and sheds light on the applicability of ecological theoretical mechanisms.
Project description:Recent studies on the impacts of disturbance on microbial communities indicate communities show differential responses to disturbance, yet our understanding of how different microbial communities may respond to and recover from disturbance is still rudimentary. We investigated impacts of tidal restriction followed by tidal restoration on abundance and diversity of denitrifying bacteria, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in New England salt marshes by analyzing nirS and bacterial and archaeal amoA genes, respectively. TRFLP analysis of nirS and betaproteobacterial amoA genes revealed significant differences between restored and undisturbed marshes, with the greatest differences detected in deeper sediments. Additionally, community patterns indicated a potential recovery trajectory for denitrifiers. Analysis of archaeal amoA genes, however, revealed no differences in community composition between restored and undisturbed marshes, but we detected significantly higher gene abundance in deeper sediment at restored sites. Abundances of nirS and betaproteobacterial amoA genes were also significantly greater in deeper sediments at restored sites. Porewater ammonium was significantly higher at depth in restored sediments compared to undisturbed sediments, suggesting a possible mechanism driving some of the community differences. Our results suggest that impacts of disturbance on denitrifying and ammonia-oxidizing communities remain nearly 30 years after restoration, potentially impacting nitrogen-cycling processes in the marsh. We also present data suggesting that sampling deeper in sediments may be critical for detecting disturbance effects in coastal sediments.
Project description:Functional redundancy in bacterial communities is expected to allow microbial assemblages to survive perturbation by allowing continuity in function despite compositional changes in communities. Recent evidence suggests, however, that microbial communities change both composition and function as a result of disturbance. We present evidence for a third response: resistance. We examined microbial community response to perturbation caused by nutrient enrichment in salt marsh sediments using deep pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA and functional gene microarrays targeting the nirS gene. Composition of the microbial community, as demonstrated by both genes, was unaffected by significant variations in external nutrient supply, despite demonstrable and diverse nutrient–induced changes in many aspects of marsh ecology. The lack of response to external forcing demonstrates a remarkable uncoupling between microbial composition and ecosystem-level biogeochemical processes and suggests that sediment microbial communities are able to resist some forms of perturbation. Overall design: nirS gene diversity from two salt marsh experiments, GSM (4 treatments, 8 samples, duplicate arrays, four replicate blocks per array, 8 arrays per slide) and PIE (2 treatments, 16 samples, duplicate arrays four replicate blocks per array, 8 arrays per slide)
Project description:In general, community similarity is thought to decay with distance; however, this view may be complicated by the relative roles of different ecological processes at different geographical scales, and by the compositional perspective (e.g. species, functional group and phylogenetic lineage) used. Coastal salt marshes are widely distributed worldwide, but no studies have explicitly examined variation in salt marsh plant community composition across geographical scales, and from species, functional and phylogenetic perspectives. Based on studies in other ecosystems, we hypothesized that, in coastal salt marshes, community turnover would be more rapid at local versus larger geographical scales; and that community turnover patterns would diverge among compositional perspectives, with a greater distance decay at the species level than at the functional or phylogenetic levels. We tested these hypotheses in salt marshes of two regions: The southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. We examined the characteristics of plant community composition at each salt marsh site, how community similarity decayed with distance within individual salt marshes versus among sites in each region, and how community similarity differed among regions, using species, functional and phylogenetic perspectives. We found that results from the three compositional perspectives generally showed similar patterns: there was strong variation in community composition within individual salt marsh sites across elevation; in contrast, community similarity decayed with distance four to five orders of magnitude more slowly across sites within each region. Overall, community dissimilarity of salt marshes was lowest on the southern Atlantic Coast, intermediate on the Gulf Coast, and highest between the two regions. Our results indicated that local gradients are relatively more important than regional processes in structuring coastal salt marsh communities. Our results also suggested that in ecosystems with low species diversity, functional and phylogenetic approaches may not provide additional insight over a species-based approach.
Project description:Functional redundancy in bacterial communities is expected to allow microbial assemblages to survive perturbation by allowing continuity in function despite compositional changes in communities. Recent evidence suggests, however, that microbial communities change both composition and function as a result of disturbance. We present evidence for a third response: resistance. We examined microbial community response to perturbation caused by nutrient enrichment in salt marsh sediments using deep pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA and functional gene microarrays targeting the nirS gene. Composition of the microbial community, as demonstrated by both genes, was unaffected by significant variations in external nutrient supply, despite demonstrable and diverse nutrient–induced changes in many aspects of marsh ecology. The lack of response to external forcing demonstrates a remarkable uncoupling between microbial composition and ecosystem-level biogeochemical processes and suggests that sediment microbial communities are able to resist some forms of perturbation. nirS gene diversity from two salt marsh experiments, GSM (4 treatments, 8 samples, duplicate arrays, four replicate blocks per array, 8 arrays per slide) and PIE (2 treatments, 16 samples, duplicate arrays four replicate blocks per array, 8 arrays per slide)