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The functional potential of high Arctic permafrost


ABSTRACT: The fate of the carbon stocked in permafrost soils following global warming and permafrost thaw is of major concern in view of the potential for increased CH4 and CO2 emissions from these soils. Complex carbon compound degradation and greenhouse gas emissions are due to soil microbial communities, but their composition and functional potential in permafrost soils are largely unknown. Here, a 2 m deep permafrost and its overlying active layer soil were subjected to metagenome sequencing, quantitative PCR, and microarray analyses. The active layer soil and 2 m permafrost soil microbial community structures were very similar, with Actinobacteria being the dominant phylum. The two soils also possessed a highly similar spectrum of functional genes, especially when compared to other already published metagenomes. Key genes related to methane generation, methane oxidation and organic matter degradation were highly diverse for both soils in the metagenomic libraries and some (e.g. pmoA) showed relatively high abundance in qPCR assays. Genes related to nitrogen fixation and ammonia oxidation, which could have important roles following climatic change in these nitrogen-limited environments, showed low diversity but high abundance. The 2 m permafrost soil showed lower abundance and diversity for all the assessed genes and taxa. Experimental biases were also evaluated and showed that the whole community genome amplification technique used caused large representational biases in the metagenomic libraries. This study described for the first time the detailed functional potential of permafrost-affected soils and detected several genes and microorganisms that could have crucial importance following permafrost thaw. Overall design: A 2m deep permafrost sample and it overlying active layer were sampled and their metagenome analysed. For microarray analyses, 8 other soil samples from the same region were used for comparison purposes.

INSTRUMENT(S): NRC-BRI_16S rRNA PsychroChip_528

SUBMITTER: Etienne Yergeau  

PROVIDER: GSE20073 | GEO | 2010-03-08

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): PRJNA124189

REPOSITORIES: GEO

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