Project description:Sphagnum-dominated peatlands comprise a globally important pool of soil carbon (C) and are vulnerable to climate change. While peat mosses of the genus Sphagnum are known to harbor diverse microbial communities that mediate C and nitrogen (N) cycling in peatlands, the effects of climate change on Sphagnum microbiome composition and functioning are largely unknown. We investigated the impacts of experimental whole-ecosystem warming on the Sphagnum moss microbiome, focusing on N2 fixing microorganisms (diazotrophs). To characterize the microbiome response to warming, we performed next-generation sequencing of small subunit (SSU) rRNA and nitrogenase (nifH) gene amplicons and quantified rates of N2 fixation activity in Sphagnum fallax individuals sampled from experimental enclosures over 2 years in a northern Minnesota, USA bog. The taxonomic diversity of overall microbial communities and diazotroph communities, as well as N2 fixation rates, decreased with warming (p < 0.05). Following warming, diazotrophs shifted from a mixed community of Nostocales (Cyanobacteria) and Rhizobiales (Alphaproteobacteria) to predominance of Nostocales. Microbiome community composition differed between years, with some diazotroph populations persisting while others declined in relative abundance in warmed plots in the second year. Our results demonstrate that warming substantially alters the community composition, diversity, and N2 fixation activity of peat moss microbiomes, which may ultimately impact host fitness, ecosystem productivity, and C storage potential in peatlands.
Project description:Northern temperate forest soils and Sphagnum-dominated peatlands are a major source and sink of methane. In these ecosystems, methane is mainly oxidized by aerobic methanotrophic bacteria, which are typically found in aerated forest soils, surface peat, and Sphagnum moss. We contrasted methanotrophic bacterial diversity and abundances from the (i) organic horizon of forest soil; (ii) surface peat; and (iii) submerged Sphagnum moss from Cranesville Swamp Preserve, West Virginia, using multiplex sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA (V3 region) gene amplicons. From ~1 million reads, >50,000 unique OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Units), 29 and 34 unique sequences were detected in the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae, respectively, and 24 potential methanotrophs in the Beijerinckiaceae were also identified. Methylacidiphilum-like methanotrophs were not detected. Proteobacterial methanotrophic bacteria constitute <2% of microbiota in these environments, with the Methylocystaceae one to two orders of magnitude more abundant than the Methylococcaceae in all environments sampled. The Methylococcaceae are also less diverse in forest soil compared to the other two habitats. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling analyses indicated that the majority of methanotrophs from the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae tend to occur in one habitat only (peat or Sphagnum moss) or co-occurred in both Sphagnum moss and peat. This study provides insights into the structure of methanotrophic communities in relationship to habitat type, and suggests that peat and Sphagnum moss can influence methanotroph community structure and biogeography.
Project description:Northern peatlands typically develop through succession from fens dominated by the moss family Amblystegiaceae to bogs dominated by the moss genus Sphagnum. How the different plants and abiotic environmental conditions provided in Amblystegiaceae and Sphagnum peat shape the respective moss associated microbial communities is unknown. Through a large-scale molecular and biogeochemical study spanning Arctic, sub-Arctic and temperate regions we assessed how the endo- and epiphytic microbial communities of natural northern peatland mosses relate to peatland type (Sphagnum and Amblystegiaceae), location, moss taxa and abiotic environmental variables. Microbial diversity and community structure were distinctly different between Amblystegiaceae and Sphagnum peatlands, and within each of these two peatland types moss taxon explained the largest part of microbial community variation. Sphagnum and Amblystegiaceae shared few (<?1% of all operational taxonomic units (OTUs)) but strikingly abundant (up to 65% of relative abundance) OTUs. This core community overlapped by one third with the Sphagnum-specific core-community. Thus, the most abundant microorganisms in Sphagnum that are also found in all the Sphagnum plants studied, are the same OTUs as those few shared with Amblystegiaceae. Finally, we could confirm that these highly abundant OTUs were endophytes in Sphagnum, but epiphytes on Amblystegiaceae. We conclude that moss taxa and abiotic environmental variables associate with particular microbial communities. While moss taxon was the most influential parameter, hydrology, pH and temperature also had significant effects on the microbial communities. A small though highly abundant core community is shared between Sphagnum and Amblystegiaceae.