Project description:The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are an extreme polar desert. Mineral soils support subsurface microbial communities and translucent rocks support development of hypolithic communities on ventral surfaces in soil contact. Despite significant research attention, relatively little is known about taxonomic and functional diversity or their inter-relationships. Here we report a combined diversity and functional interrogation for soil and hypoliths of the Miers Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The study employed 16S rRNA fingerprinting and high throughput sequencing combined with the GeoChip functional microarray. The soil community was revealed as a highly diverse reservoir of bacterial diversity dominated by actinobacteria. Hypolithic communities were less diverse and dominated by cyanobacteria. Major differences in putative functionality were that soil communities displayed greater diversity in stress tolerance and recalcitrant substrate utilization pathways, whilst hypolithic communities supported greater diversity of nutrient limitation adaptation pathways. A relatively high level of functional redundancy in both soil and hypoliths may indicate adaptation of these communities to fluctuating environmental conditions.
Project description:Recent applications of molecular genetics to edaphic microbial communities of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and elsewhere have rejected a long-held belief that Antarctic soils contain extremely limited microbial diversity. The Inter-Valley Soil Comparative Survey aims to elucidate the factors shaping these unique microbial communities and their biogeography by integrating molecular genetic approaches with biogeochemical analyses. Although the microbial communities of Dry Valley soils may be complex, there is little doubt that the ecosystem's food web is relatively simple, and evidence suggests that physicochemical conditions may have the dominant role in shaping microbial communities. To examine this hypothesis, bacterial communities from representative soil samples collected in four geographically disparate Dry Valleys were analyzed using molecular genetic tools, including pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene PCR amplicons. Results show that the four communities are structurally and phylogenetically distinct, and possess significantly different levels of diversity. Strikingly, only 2 of 214 phylotypes were found in all four valleys, challenging a widespread assumption that the microbiota of the Dry Valleys is composed of a few cosmopolitan species. Analysis of soil geochemical properties indicated that salt content, alongside altitude and Cu(2+), was significantly correlated with differences in microbial communities. Our results indicate that the microbial ecology of Dry Valley soils is highly localized and that physicochemical factors potentially have major roles in shaping the microbiology of ice-free areas of Antarctica. These findings hint at links between Dry Valley glacial geomorphology and microbial ecology, and raise previously unrecognized issues related to environmental management of this unique ecosystem.
Project description:The McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are considered to be one of the most physically and chemically extreme terrestrial environments on the Earth. However, little is known about the organisms involved in nitrogen transformations in these environments. In this study, we investigated the diversity and abundance of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) in four McMurdo Dry Valleys with highly variable soil geochemical properties and climatic conditions: Miers Valley, Upper Wright Valley, Beacon Valley and Battleship Promontory. The bacterial communities of these four Dry Valleys have been examined previously, and the results suggested that the extremely localized bacterial diversities are likely driven by the disparate physicochemical conditions associated with these locations. Here we showed that AOB and AOA amoA gene diversity was generally low; only four AOA and three AOB operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified from a total of 420 AOA and AOB amoA clones. Quantitative PCR analysis of amoA genes revealed clear differences in the relative abundances of AOA and AOB amoA genes among samples from the four dry valleys. Although AOB amoA gene dominated the ammonia-oxidizing community in soils from Miers Valley and Battleship Promontory, AOA amoA gene were more abundant in samples from Upper Wright and Beacon Valleys, where the environmental conditions are considerably harsher (e.g., extremely low soil C/N ratios and much higher soil electrical conductivity). Correlations between environmental variables and amoA genes copy numbers, as examined by redundancy analysis (RDA), revealed that higher AOA/AOB ratios were closely related to soils with high salts and Cu contents and low pH. Our findings hint at a dichotomized distribution of AOA and AOB within the Dry Valleys, potentially driven by environmental constraints.
Project description:Contrary to earlier assumptions, molecular evidence has demonstrated the presence of diverse and localized soil bacterial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether fungal signals so far detected in Dry Valley soils using both culture-based and molecular techniques represent adapted and ecologically active biomass or spores transported by wind. Through a systematic and quantitative molecular survey, we identified significant heterogeneities in soil fungal communities across the Dry Valleys that robustly correlate with heterogeneities in soil physicochemical properties. Community fingerprinting analysis and 454 pyrosequencing of the fungal ribosomal intergenic spacer region revealed different levels of heterogeneity in fungal diversity within individual Dry Valleys and a surprising abundance of Chytridiomycota species, whereas previous studies suggested that Dry Valley soils were dominated by Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Critically, we identified significant differences in fungal community composition and structure of adjacent sites with no obvious barrier to aeolian transport between them. These findings suggest that edaphic fungi of the Antarctic Dry Valleys are adapted to local environments and represent an ecologically relevant (and possibly important) heterotrophic component of the ecosystem.
Project description:Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon occurs at an alarming rate, which has broad effects on global greenhouse gas emissions, carbon storage, and biogeochemical cycles. In this study, soil metagenomes and metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) were analyzed for alterations to microbial community composition, functional groups, and putative physiology as it related to land-use change and tropical soil. A total of 28 MAGs were assembled encompassing 10 phyla, including both dominant and rare biosphere lineages. Amazon Acidobacteria subdivision 3, Melainabacteria, Microgenomates, and Parcubacteria were found exclusively in pasture soil samples, while Candidatus Rokubacteria was predominant in the adjacent rainforest soil. These shifts in relative abundance between land-use types were supported by the different putative physiologies and life strategies employed by the taxa. This research provides unique biological insights into candidate phyla in tropical soil and how deforestation may impact the carbon cycle and affect climate change.
Project description:Antarctic cryoconite holes, or small melt-holes in the surfaces of glaciers, create habitable oases for isolated microbial communities with tightly linked microbial population structures. Viruses may influence the dynamics of polar microbial communities, but the viromes of the Antarctic cryoconite holes have yet to be characterized. We characterize single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses from three cryoconite holes in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica, using metagenomics. Half of the assembled metagenomes cluster with those in the viral family Microviridae (n = 7), and the rest with unclassified circular replication associated protein (Rep)-encoding single-stranded (CRESS) DNA viruses (n = 7). An additional 18 virus-like circular molecules encoding either a Rep, a capsid protein gene, or other unidentified but viral-like open reading frames were identified. The samples from which the genomes were identified show a strong gradient in microbial diversity and abundances, and the number of viral genomes detected in each sample mirror that gradient. Additionally, one of the CRESS genomes assembled here shares ~90% genome-wide pairwise identity with a virus identified from a freshwater pond on the McMurdo Ice Shelf (Antarctica). Otherwise, the similarity of these viruses to those previously identified is relatively low. Together, these patterns are consistent with the presence of a unique regional virome present in fresh water host populations of the McMurdo Dry Valley region.
Project description:Soil microbial communities contain the highest level of prokaryotic diversity of any environment, and metagenomic approaches involving the extraction of DNA from soil can improve our access to these communities. Most analyses of soil biodiversity and function assume that the DNA extracted represents the microbial community in the soil, but subsequent interpretations are limited by the DNA recovered from the soil. Unfortunately, extraction methods do not provide a uniform and unbiased subsample of metagenomic DNA, and as a consequence, accurate species distributions cannot be determined. Moreover, any bias will propagate errors in estimations of overall microbial diversity and may exclude some microbial classes from study and exploitation. To improve metagenomic approaches, investigate DNA extraction biases, and provide tools for assessing the relative abundances of different groups, we explored the biodiversity of the accessible community DNA by fractioning the metagenomic DNA as a function of (i) vertical soil sampling, (ii) density gradients (cell separation), (iii) cell lysis stringency, and (iv) DNA fragment size distribution. Each fraction had a unique genetic diversity, with different predominant and rare species (based on ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis [RISA] fingerprinting and phylochips). All fractions contributed to the number of bacterial groups uncovered in the metagenome, thus increasing the DNA pool for further applications. Indeed, we were able to access a more genetically diverse proportion of the metagenome (a gain of more than 80% compared to the best single extraction method), limit the predominance of a few genomes, and increase the species richness per sequencing effort. This work stresses the difference between extracted DNA pools and the currently inaccessible complete soil metagenome.
Project description:The variety of metagenomes in current databases provides a rapidly growing source of information for comparative studies. However, the quantity and quality of supplementary metadata is still lagging behind. It is therefore important to be able to identify related metagenomes by means of the available sequence data alone. We have studied efficient sequence-based methods for large-scale identification of similar metagenomes within a database retrieval context. In a broad comparison of different profiling methods we found that vector-based distance measures are well-suitable for the detection of metagenomic neighbors. Our evaluation on more than 1700 publicly available metagenomes indicates that for a query metagenome from a particular habitat on average nine out of ten nearest neighbors represent the same habitat category independent of the utilized profiling method or distance measure. While for well-defined labels a neighborhood accuracy of 100% can be achieved, in general the neighbor detection is severely affected by a natural overlap of manually annotated categories. In addition, we present results of a novel visualization method that is able to reflect the similarity of metagenomes in a 2D scatter plot. The visualization method shows a similarly high accuracy in the reduced space as compared with the high-dimensional profile space. Our study suggests that for inspection of metagenome neighborhoods the profiling methods and distance measures can be chosen to provide a convenient interpretation of results in terms of the underlying features. Furthermore, supplementary metadata of metagenome samples in the future needs to comply with readily available ontologies for fine-grained and standardized annotation. To make profile-based k-nearest-neighbor search and the 2D-visualization of the metagenome universe available to the research community, we included the proposed methods in our CoMet-Universe server for comparative metagenome analysis.
Project description:Understanding microbial adaptation to environmental stressors is crucial for interpreting broader ecological patterns. In the most extreme hot and cold deserts, cryptic niche communities are thought to play key roles in ecosystem processes and represent excellent model systems for investigating microbial responses to environmental stressors. However, relatively little is known about the genetic diversity underlying such functional processes in climatically extreme desert systems. This study presents the first comparative metagenome analysis of cyanobacteria-dominated hypolithic communities in hot (Namib Desert, Namibia) and cold (Miers Valley, Antarctica) hyperarid deserts. The most abundant phyla in both hypolith metagenomes were Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes with Cyanobacteria dominating in Antarctic hypoliths. However, no significant differences between the two metagenomes were identified. The Antarctic hypolithic metagenome displayed a high number of sequences assigned to sigma factors, replication, recombination and repair, translation, ribosomal structure, and biogenesis. In contrast, the Namib Desert metagenome showed a high abundance of sequences assigned to carbohydrate transport and metabolism. Metagenome data analysis also revealed significant divergence in the genetic determinants of amino acid and nucleotide metabolism between these two metagenomes and those of soil from other polar deserts, hot deserts, and non-desert soils. Our results suggest extensive niche differentiation in hypolithic microbial communities from these two extreme environments and a high genetic capacity for survival under environmental extremes.
Project description:Despite the central role of soil microbial communities in global carbon (C) cycling, little is known about soil microbial community structure and even less about their metabolic pathways. Efforts to characterize soil communities often focus on identifying differences in gene content across environmental gradients, but an alternative question is what genes are similar in soils. These genes may indicate critical species or potential functions that are required in all soils. Here we identified the "core" set of C cycling sequences widely present in multiple soil metagenomes from a fertilized prairie (FP). Of 226,887 sequences associated with known enzymes involved in the synthesis, metabolism, and transport of carbohydrates, 843 were identified to be consistently prevalent across four replicate soil metagenomes. This core metagenome was functionally and taxonomically diverse, representing five enzyme classes and 99 enzyme families within the CAZy database. Though it only comprised 0.4% of all CAZy-associated genes identified in FP metagenomes, the core was found to be comprised of functions similar to those within cumulative soils. The FP CAZy-associated core sequences were present in multiple publicly available soil metagenomes and most similar to soils sharing geographic proximity. In soil ecosystems, where high diversity remains a key challenge for metagenomic investigations, these core genes represent a subset of critical functions necessary for carbohydrate metabolism, which can be targeted to evaluate important C fluxes in these and other similar soils.