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Soil Microbial Responses to Different Precipitation Regimes Across a Southwestern United States Elevation Gradient

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Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil moisture and temperature governing microbial activity and subsequent soil C processes. Predictions for future climate include warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes, suggesting impacts on future soil C cycling. However, it is uncertain how soil microbial communities and subsequent soil organic carbon pools will respond to these changes, particularly in dryland ecosystems. A knowledge gap exists in soil microbial community responses to short- versus long-term precipitation alteration in dryland systems. Assessing soil C cycle processes and microbial community responses under current and altered precipitation patterns will aid in understanding how C pools and cycling might be altered by climate change. This study investigates how soil microbial communities are influenced by established climate regimes and extreme changes in short-term precipitation patterns across a 1000 m elevation gradient in northern Arizona, where precipitation increases with elevation. Precipitation was manipulated (50% addition and 50% exclusion of ambient rainfall) for two summer rainy seasons at five sites across the elevation gradient. In situ and ex situ soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were measured in precipitation treatments in all sites. Soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were highest at the three highest elevation sites compared to the two lowest elevation sites. Within sites, precipitation treatments did not change microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC. Soil CO2 flux was greater under precipitation addition treatments than exclusion treatments at both the highest elevation site and second lowest elevation site. Ex situ respiration differed among the precipitation treatments only at the lowest elevation site, where respiration was enhanced in the precipitation addition plots. These results suggest soil C cycling will respond to long-term changes in precipitation, but pools and fluxes of carbon will likely show site-specific sensitivities to short-term precipitation patterns that are also expected with climate change.

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2019

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Changes in Microbial Communities and Geochemical Energy Supplies Across the Photosynthetic Fringe of Hot Spring Outflows in Yellowstone National Park

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Utilizing both 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing alongside energetic calculations from geochemical measurements offers a bridged perspective of prokaryotic and eukaryotic community diversities and their relationships to geochemical diversity. Yellowstone National Park hot spring outflows from varied geochemical compositions, ranging

Utilizing both 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing alongside energetic calculations from geochemical measurements offers a bridged perspective of prokaryotic and eukaryotic community diversities and their relationships to geochemical diversity. Yellowstone National Park hot spring outflows from varied geochemical compositions, ranging in pH from < 2 to > 9 and in temperature from < 30°C to > 90°C, were sampled across the photosynthetic fringe, a transition in these outflows from exclusively chemosynthetic microbial communities to those that include photosynthesis. Illumina sequencing was performed to document the diversity of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes above, at, and below the photosynthetic fringe of twelve hot spring systems. Additionally, field measurements of dissolved oxygen, ferrous iron, and total sulfide were combined with laboratory analyses of sulfate, nitrate, total ammonium, dissolved inorganic carbon, dissolved methane, dissolved hydrogen, and dissolved carbon monoxide were used to calculate the available energy from 58 potential metabolisms. Results were ranked to identify those that yield the most energy according to the geochemical conditions of each system. Of the 46 samples taken across twelve systems, all showed the greatest energy yields using oxygen as the main electron acceptor, followed by nitrate. On the other hand, ammonium or ammonia, depending on pH, showed the greatest energy yields as an electron donor, followed by H2S or HS-. While some sequenced taxa reflect potential biotic participants in the sulfur cycle of these hot spring systems, many sample locations that yield the most energy from ammonium/ammonia oxidation have low relative abundances of known ammonium/ammonia oxidizers, indicating potentially untapped sources of chemotrophic energy or perhaps poorly understood metabolic capabilities of cultured chemotrophs.

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2018