Genomic Signatures for Sedimentary Microbial Utilization of Phytoplankton Detritus in a Fast-Flowing Estuary.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:Tidal marsh and estuarine marine microbial sediment metagenomes from the Great Bay Estuary of New Hampshire were sequenced and found to be dominated by Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. Both types of sediment contained many unclassified bacterial sequences, including the mollusk pathogen Perkinsus marinus, and detectable xenobiotic degradation and nitrogen transformation genes.
Project description:Coastal estuaries and bays are exposed to both natural and anthropogenic environmental changes, inflicting intensive stress on the microbial communities inhabiting these areas. However, it remains unclear how microbial community diversity and their eco-functions are affected by anthropogenic disturbances rather than natural environmental changes. Here, we explored sediment microbial functional genes dynamics and community interaction networks in Hangzhou Bay (HZB), one of the most severely polluted bays on China's eastern coast. The results indicated key microbial functional gene categories, including N, P, S, and aromatic compound metabolism, and stress response, displayed significant spatial dynamics along environmental gradients. Sensitive feedbacks of key functional gene categories to N and P pollutants demonstrated potential impacts of human-induced seawater pollutants to microbial functional capacity. Seawater ammonia and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) was identified as primary drivers in selecting adaptive populations and varying community composition. Network analysis revealed distinct modules that were stimulated in inner or outer bay. Importantly, the network keystone species, which played a fundamental role in community interactions, were strongly affected by N-pollutants. Our results provide a systematic understanding of the microbial compositional and functional dynamics in an urbanized coastal estuary, and highlighted the impact of human activities on these communities.
Project description:An estuary is a dynamic environment where marine and fluvial processes meet to form complex and transient morphology. The estuary morphology is largely determined by net sediment transport by two-way tidal flows, but the hydrodynamics also depends on the morphology of the tidal channels. The estuary inherently accommodates cyclic processes that are internally generated through hydro-morphodynamic interactions. In addition, the estuary evolves in response to changes in external forces by natural and anthropogenic factors. Morphological changes under the different controls often hinder the comprehension of the evolutionary processes of estuaries. Here we explored morphological changes in the Sittang River estuary, Myanmar, which has great morphological dynamism from extreme tidal energy and large sediment inputs, through field surveys and satellite imagery analysis. We identify an autocyclic process in a sedimentary system driving large-scale channel migration in decadal to multidecadal cycles. We show that drastic changes of the estuary morphology occasionally occur with rapid bank erosion through modulation of the cyclic channel migration under conflicting tidal and fluvial forces. This extreme case with minimal human intervention highlights channel migration as a key process in morphological evolution of tide-dominated estuaries undergoing active infilling.
Project description: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:Modeling the magnitude and distribution of sediment-bound pollutants in estuaries is often limited by incomplete knowledge of the site and inadequate sample density. To address these modeling limitations, a decision-support tool framework was conceived that predicts sediment contamination from the sub-estuary to broader estuary extent. For this study, a Random Forest (RF) model was implemented to predict the distribution of a model contaminant, triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol) (TCS), in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA. TCS is an unregulated contaminant used in many personal care products. The RF explanatory variables were associated with TCS transport and fate (proxies) and direct and indirect environmental entry. The continuous RF TCS concentration predictions were discretized into three levels of contamination (low, medium, and high) for three different quantile thresholds. The RF model explained 63% of the variance with a minimum number of variables. Total organic carbon (TOC) (transport and fate proxy) was a strong predictor of TCS contamination causing a mean squared error increase of 59% when compared to permutations of randomized values of TOC. Additionally, combined sewer overflow discharge (environmental entry) and sand (transport and fate proxy) were strong predictors. The discretization models identified a TCS area of greatest concern in the northern reach of Narragansett Bay (Providence River sub-estuary), which was validated with independent test samples. This decision-support tool performed well at the sub-estuary extent and provided the means to identify areas of concern and prioritize bay-wide sampling.
Project description:Protease-producing bacteria are widespread in ocean sediments and play important roles in degrading sedimentary nitrogenous organic materials. However, the diversity of the bacteria and the proteases involved in such processes remain largely unknown especially for communities in enclosed sea bays. Here, we investigated the diversity of the extracellular protease-producing bacteria and their protease types in Laizhou Bay. A total of 121 bacterial isolates were obtained from sediment samples in 7 sites and their protease types were characterized. The abundance of cultivable protease-producing bacteria was about 104 CFU g-1 of sediment. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequences suggest that the isolates belonged to 17 genera from 4 phyla including Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, and mainly dominated by the genera Pseudoalteromonas (40.5%), Bacillus (36.3%), and Photobacterium (5.8%). The diversity and community structure varied among different sampling sites but no significant correlation was observed with soil sediment's characteristics. Enzyme activity and inhibition tests further revealed that all isolates secreted proteases that were inhibited by serine and/or metalloprotease inhibitors, and a smaller proportion was inhibited by inhibitors of cysteine and/or aspartic proteases. Furthermore, all isolates effectively degraded casein and/or gelatin with only a few that could hydrolyze elastin, suggesting that the bacteria were producing different kinds of serine proteases or metalloproteases. This study provided novel insights on the community structure of cultivable protease-producing bacteria near the Yellow River estuary of an enclosed sea bay.
Project description:Phytoplankton species assemblages in estuaries are connected to those in rivers and marine environments by local hydrodynamics leading to a continuous flow of taxa. This study revealed differential effects of upwelling and river flow on phytoplankton communities observed in 2011 along a salinity gradient from a river reservoir connected to the sea through a ria-marine bay system in A Coruña (NW Spain, 43° 16-21' N, 8° 16-22' W). With 130 phytoplankton taxa identified, the assemblages were dominated in general by diatoms, particularly abundant in the bay and in the estuary, but also by chlorophycea and cyanobacteria in the reservoir. Considering the entire seasonal cycle, the local assemblages were mainly characterized by changes in cryptophytes and diatoms, small dinoflagellates and some freshwater chlorophycea. Salinity, nitrate, and organic matter variables, were the main environmental factors related to the changes in the phytoplankton communities through the system, while phosphate and nitrite were also important for local communities in the estuary and the bay, respectively. The corresponding local phytoplankton assemblages showed moderate levels of connectivity. The estuarine community shared a variable number of taxa with the adjacent zones, depending on the relative strength of upwelling (major influence from the bay) and river flow (major influence of the reservoir) but had on average 35% of unique taxa. Consequently, local and zonal diversity patterns varied seasonally and were not simply related to the salinity gradient driven by the river flow.
Project description:Fueled by seasonal phytoplankton blooms, the Columbia River estuary is a natural bioreactor for organic matter transformations. Prior metagenome analyses indicated high abundances of diverse Bacteroidetes taxa in estuarine samples containing phytoplankton. To examine the hypothesis that Bacteroidetes taxa have important roles in phytoplankton turnover, we further analyzed metagenomes from water collected along a salinity gradient at 0, 5, 15, 25, and 33 PSU during bloom events. Size fractions were obtained by using a 3-μm prefilter and 0.2-μm collection filter. Although this approach targeted bacteria by removing comparatively large eukaryotic cells, the metagenome from the ES-5 sample (5 PSU) nevertheless contained an abundance of diatom DNA. Biogeochemical measurements and prior studies indicated that this finding resulted from the leakage of cellular material due to freshwater diatom lysis at low salinity. Relative to the other metagenomes, the bacterial fraction of ES-5 was dramatically depleted of genes annotated as Bacteroidetes and lysogenic bacteriophages, but was overrepresented in DNA of protists and Myxococcales bacterivores. We suggest the following equally plausible scenarios for the microbial response to phytoplankton lysis: (1) Bacteroidetes depletion in the free-living fraction may at least in part be caused by their attachment to fluvial diatoms as the latter are lysed upon contact with low-salinity estuarine waters; (2) diatom particle colonization is likely followed by rapid bacterial growth and lytic phage infection, resulting in depletion of lysogenic bacteriophages and host bacteria; and (3) the subsequent availability of labile organic matter attracted both grazers and predators to feed in this estuarine biogeochemical "hotspot," which may have additionally depleted Bacteroidetes populations. These results represent the first detailed molecular analysis of the microbial response to phytoplankton lysis at the freshwater-brackish water interface in the fast-flowing Columbia River estuary.
Project description:Depth of colonization (Zc ) is a useful seagrass growth metric that describes seagrass response to light availability. Similarly, percent surface irradiance at Zc (% SI) is an indicator of seagrass light requirements with applications in seagrass ecology and management. Methods for estimating Zc and % SI are highly variable making meaningful comparisons difficult. A new algorithm is presented to compute maps of median and maximum Zc , Zc, med and Zc,max , respectively, for four Florida coastal areas (Big Bend, Tampa Bay, Choctawhatchee Bay, Indian River Lagoon). Maps of light attenuation (Kd ) based on MODIS satellite imagery, PAR profiles, and Secchi depth measurements were combined with seagrass growth estimates to produce maps of % SI at Zc,med and Zc,max . Among estuary segments, mean Zc,med varied from (±s.e.) 0.80±0.13 m for Old Tampa Bay to 2.33±0.26 m for Western Choctawhatchee Bay. Standard errors for Zc,med were 1-10% of the segment means. Percent SI at Zc,med averaged 18% for Indian River Lagoon (range = 9-24%), 42% for Tampa Bay (37-48%) and 58% for Choctawhatchee Bay (51-75%). Estimates of % SI were significantly lower in Indian River Lagoon than in the other estuaries, while estimates for Tampa Bay and Choctawhatchee Bay were higher than the often cited estimate of 20%. Spatial gradients in depth of colonization and % SI were apparent in all estuaries. The analytical approach could be applied easily to new data from these estuaries or to other estuaries and could be incorporated routinely in assessments of seagrass status and condition.
Project description:Glacier melting and altered precipitation patterns influence Arctic freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Arctic rivers are central to Arctic water ecosystems by linking glacier meltwaters and precipitation with the ocean through transport of particulate matter and microorganisms. However, the impact of different water sources on the microbial communities in Arctic rivers and estuaries remains unknown. In this study we used 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to assess a small river and its estuary on the Disko Island, West Greenland (69°N). Samples were taken in August when there is maximum precipitation and temperatures are high in the Disko Bay area. We describe the bacterial community through a river into the estuary, including communities originating in a glacier and a proglacial lake. Our results show that water from the glacier and lake transports distinct communities into the river in terms of diversity and community composition. Bacteria of terrestrial origin were among the dominating OTUs in the main river, while the glacier and lake supplied the river with water containing fewer terrestrial organisms. Also, more psychrophilic taxa were found in the community supplied by the lake. At the river mouth, the presence of dominant bacterial taxa from the lake and glacier was unnoticeable, but these taxa increased their abundances again further into the estuary. On average 23% of the estuary community consisted of indicator OTUs from different sites along the river. Environmental variables showed only weak correlations with community composition, suggesting that hydrology largely influences the observed patterns.