Project description:Organic matter (OM) production and degradation is important in coastal estuaries, and OM fate is strongly influenced by the coupled interactions of bioturbation and biogeochemistry. From April to September 2013 sediment cores and a benthic observing system, Wormcam, were used to investigate the in situ relationship of biogeochemistry and macrofauna bioturbation in Cape Lookout Bight North Carolina. Wormcam imagery provided a vivid depiction of macrofauna functioning in an environment not previously observed, and affirmed the importance of fine-scale temporal observations of the benthic environment in situ. Observation of macrofauna presence and bioturbation during the summer contradicted previous studies that found this area to be azoic during methane activity and sulfide build-up. Sulfate concentrations decreased while sulfide and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations increased during the summer. This coincided with changes in the depth and rates of bioturbation. Summer burrow depths (~0.8 cm) and rates (~0.4 cm h-1) were significantly less than spring burrow depths (~3.0 cm) and rates (~1.0 cm h-1). While sulfate reduction and OM degradation increased with temperature at a microscopic level, macroscopic OM degradation was reduced. As a result, reduced conditions dominated and a thin aerobic sediment layer, a few millimeters in thickness, was visible at the sediment surface. Decreases in macrofauna burrow depth and rates diminishes the area of influence of bioturbators, limiting bioturbation and subsequently the important ecosystem functions these organisms provide.
Project description:Bioturbation plays a substantial role in sediment oxygen concentration, chemical cycling, regeneration of nutrients, microbial activity, and the rate of organic matter decomposition in modern oceans. In addition, bioturbators are ecosystem engineers which promote the presence of some organisms, while precluding others. However, the impact of bioturbation in deep time remains controversial and limited sediment mixing has been indicated for early Paleozoic seas. Our understanding of the actual impact of bioturbation early in the Phanerozoic has been hampered by the lack of detailed analysis of the functional significance of specific burrow architectures. Integration of ichnologic and sedimentologic evidence from North China shows that deep-tier Thalassinoides mazes occur in lower Cambrian nearshore carbonate sediments, leading to intense disruption of the primary fabric. Comparison with modern studies suggest that some of the effects of this style of Cambrian bioturbation may have included promotion of nitrogen and ammonium fluxes across the sediment-water interface, average deepening of the redox discontinuity surface, expansion of aerobic bacteria, and increase in the rate of organic matter decomposition and the regeneration of nutrients. Our study suggests that early Cambrian sediment mixing in carbonate settings may have been more significant than assumed in previous models.
Project description:Microorganisms are key contributors to biogeochemical flux in estuarine ecosystems. In this study, we conducted proteogenomic characterization of microbial communities from estuarine ecosystems.
Project description:Oil spills threaten coastlines where biological processes supply essential ecosystem services. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how oil influences the microbial communities in sediments that play key roles in ecosystem functioning. Ecosystems such as sediments are characterized by intensive bioturbation due to burrowing macrofauna that may modify the microbial metabolisms. It is thus essential to consider the bioturbation when determining the impact of oil on microbial communities. In this study, an experimental laboratory device maintaining pristine collected mudflat sediments in microcosms closer to true environmental conditions--with tidal cycles and natural seawater--was used to simulate an oil spill under bioturbation conditions. Different conditions were applied to the microcosms including an addition of: standardized oil (Blend Arabian Light crude oil, 25.6 mg.g?¹ wet sediment), the common burrowing organism Hediste (Nereis) diversicolor and both the oil and H. diversicolor. The addition of H. diversicolor and its associated bioturbation did not affect the removal of petroleum hydrocarbons. After 270 days, 60% of hydrocarbons had been removed in all microcosms irrespective of the H. diversicolor addition. However, 16S-rRNA gene and 16S-cDNA T-RFLP and RT-PCR-amplicon libraries analysis showed an effect of the condition on the bacterial community structure, composition, and dynamics, supported by PerMANOVA analysis. The 16S-cDNA libraries from microcosms where H. diversicolor was added (oiled and un-oiled) showed a marked dominance of sequences related to Gammaproteobacteria. However, in the oiled-library sequences associated to Deltaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were also highly represented. The 16S-cDNA libraries from oiled-microcosms (with and without H. diversicolor addition) revealed two distinct microbial communities characterized by different phylotypes associated to known hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria and dominated by Gammaproteobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria. In the oiled-microcosms, the addition of H. diversicolor reduced the phylotype-richness, sequences associated to Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Plantomycetes were not detected. These observations highlight the influence of the bioturbation on the bacterial community structure without affecting the biodegradation capacities.
Project description:In marine environments, macrofauna living in or on the sediment surface may alter the structure, diversity and function of benthic microbial communities. In particular, microbial nitrogen (N)-cycling processes may be enhanced by the activity of large bioturbating organisms. Here, we study the effect of the burrowing mud shrimp Upogebia deltaura upon temporal variation in the abundance of genes representing key N-cycling functional guilds. The abundance of bacterial genes representing different N-cycling guilds displayed different temporal patterns in burrow sediments in comparison with surface sediments, suggesting that the burrow provides a unique environment where bacterial gene abundances are influenced directly by macrofaunal activity. In contrast, the abundances of archaeal ammonia oxidizers varied temporally but were not affected by bioturbation, indicating differential responses between bacterial and archaeal ammonia oxidizers to environmental physicochemical controls. This study highlights the importance of bioturbation as a control over the temporal variation in nitrogen-cycling microbial community dynamics within coastal sediments.
Project description:Through a process called "bioturbation," burrowing macrofauna have altered the seafloor habitat and modified global carbon cycling since the Cambrian. However, the impact of macrofauna on the community structure of microorganisms is poorly understood. Here, we show that microbial communities across bioturbated, but geochemically and sedimentologically divergent, continental margin sites are highly similar but differ clearly from those in nonbioturbated surface and underlying subsurface sediments. Solid- and solute-phase geochemical analyses combined with modeled bioturbation activities reveal that dissolved O<sub>2</sub> introduction by burrow ventilation is the major driver of archaeal community structure. By contrast, solid-phase reworking, which regulates the distribution of fresh, algal organic matter, is the main control of bacterial community structure. In nonbioturbated surface sediments and in subsurface sediments, bacterial and archaeal communities are more divergent between locations and appear mainly driven by site-specific differences in organic carbon sources.
Project description:Carbon mineralization processes and their dependence on environmental conditions (e.g. through macrobenthic bioturbation) have been widely studied in temperate coastal sediments, but almost nothing is known about these processes in subtropical coastal sediments. This study investigated pathways of organic carbon mineralization and associated effects of macrobenthic bioturbation in winter and summer (September 2012 and February 2014) at the SE Brazilian coast. Iron reduction (FeR) was responsible for 73-81% of total microbial carbon mineralization in September 2012 and 32-61% in February 2014. Similar high rates of FeR have only been documented a few times in coastal sediments and can be sustained by the presence of large bioturbators. Denitrification accounted for 5-27% of total microbial carbon mineralization while no SO4(2-) reduction was detected in any season. Redox profiles suggested that conditions were less reduced in February 2014 than in September 2012, probably associated with low reactivity of the organic matter, higher rates of aerobic respiration and bioirrigation by the higher density of small-macrofauna. Bioturbation by small macrofauna may maintain the sediment oxidized in summer, while large-sized species stimulate the reoxidation of reduced compounds throughout the year. Therefore, bioturbation seems to have an important role modulating the pathways of carbon mineralization in the area.
Project description:Intertidal systems are complex and dynamic environments with many interacting factors influencing biochemical characteristics and microbial communities. One key factor are the actions of resident fauna, many of which are regarded as ecosystem engineers because of their bioturbation, bioirrigation and sediment stabilising activities. The purpose of this investigation was to elucidate the evolutionary implications of the ecosystem engineering process by identifying, if any, aspects that act as selection pressures upon microbial communities. A mesocosm study was performed using the well characterised intertidal ecosystem engineers Corophium volutator, Hediste diversicolor, and microphytobenthos, in addition to manual turbation of sediments to compare effects of bioturbation, bioirrigation and stabilisation. A range of sediment functions and biogeochemical gradients were measured in conjunction with 16S rRNA sequencing and diatom taxonomy, with downstream bacterial metagenome function prediction, to identify selection pressures that incited change to microbial community composition and function. Bacterial communities were predominantly Proteobacteria, with the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes, Alphaproteobacteria and Verrucomicrobia being partially displaced by Deltaproteobacteria, Acidobacteria and Chloroflexi as dissolved oxygen concentration and redox potential decreased. Bacterial community composition was driven strongly by biogeochemistry; surface communities were affected by a combination of sediment functions and overlying water turbidity, and subsurface communities by biogeochemical gradients driven by sediment reworking. Diatom communities were dominated by Nitzschia laevis and Achnanthes sp., and assemblage composition was influenced by overlying water turbidity (manual or biogenic) rather than direct infaunal influences such as grazing.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Oysters in coastal environments are subject to fluctuating environmental conditions that may impact the ecosystem services they provide. Oyster-associated microbiomes are responsible for some of these services, particularly nutrient cycling in benthic habitats. The effects of climate change on host-associated microbiome composition are well-known, but functional changes and how they may impact host physiology and ecosystem functioning are poorly characterized. We investigated how environmental parameters affect oyster-associated microbial community structure and function along a trophic gradient in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA. Adult eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, gut and seawater samples were collected at 5 sites along this estuarine nutrient gradient in August 2017. Samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing to characterize bacterial community structures and metatranscriptomes were sequenced to determine oyster gut microbiome responses to local environments.<h4>Results</h4>There were significant differences in bacterial community structure between the eastern oyster gut and water samples, suggesting selection of certain taxa by the oyster host. Increasing salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen, and decreasing nitrate, nitrite and phosphate concentrations were observed along the North to South gradient. Transcriptionally active bacterial taxa were similar for the different sites, but expression of oyster-associated microbial genes involved in nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) cycling varied throughout the Bay, reflecting the local nutrient regimes and prevailing environmental conditions.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The observed shifts in microbial community composition and function inform how estuarine conditions affect host-associated microbiomes and their ecosystem services. As the effects of estuarine acidification are expected to increase due to the combined effects of eutrophication, coastal pollution, and climate change, it is important to determine relationships between host health, microbial community structure, and environmental conditions in benthic communities.