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Microbial Ecology

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 558–568 | Cite as

Microbial Community Response to Seawater Amendment in Low-Salinity Tidal Sediments

  • Jennifer W. EdmondsEmail author
  • Nathaniel B. Weston
  • Samantha B. Joye
  • Xiaozhen Mou
  • Mary Ann Moran
Microbiology of Aquatic Systems

Abstract

Rising sea levels and excessive water withdrawals upstream are making previously freshwater coastal ecosystems saline. Plant and animal responses to variation in the freshwater–saline interface have been well studied in the coastal zone; however, microbial community structure and functional response to seawater intrusion remains relatively unexplored. Here, we used molecular approaches to evaluate the response of the prokaryotic community to controlled changes in porewater salinity levels in freshwater sediments from the Altamaha River, Georgia, USA. This work is a companion to a previously published study describing results from an experiment using laboratory flow-through sediment core bioreactors to document biogeochemical changes as porewater salinity was increased from 0 to 10 over 35 days. As reported in Weston et al. (Biogeochemistry, 77:375–408, 62), porewater chemistry was monitored, and cores were sacrificed at 0, 9, 15, and 35 days, at which time we completed terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and 16S rRNA clone library analyses of sediment microbial communities. The biogeochemical study documented changes in mineralization pathways in response to artificial seawater additions, with a decline in methanogenesis, a transient increase in iron reduction, and finally a dominance of sulfate reduction. Here, we report that, despite these dramatic and significant changes in microbial activity at the biogeochemical level, no significant differences were found between microbial community composition of control vs. seawater-amended treatments for either Bacterial or Archaeal members. Further, taxa in the seawater-amended treatment community did not become more “marine-like” through time. Our experiment suggests that, as seawater intrudes into freshwater sediments, observed changes in metabolic activity and carbon mineralization on the time scale of weeks are driven more by shifts in gene expression and regulation than by changes in the composition of the microbial community.

Keywords

Methanogenesis Microbial Community Structure Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Freshwater Sediment Prokaryotic Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by a NSF Microbial Biology post-doctoral fellowship (to JWE), by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (to MAM), and by the National Science Foundations’s Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research Program (OCE 99-82133 to SBJ). We thank J. Menken and R. Dixon for laboratory assistance. Molecular analysis support was graciously provided by T. Pickering and W. Ye.

Supplementary material

248_2009_9556_MOESM1_ESM.doc (229 kb)
Supplemental Material Figure 1 Study site map indicating sampling location with respect to the coastal Altamaha River complex and the eastern North American coast (inset). (DOC 229 kb)
248_2009_9556_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (3.1 mb)
Supplemental Material Figure 2 Bootstrapped, neighbor-joining tree using all nonredundant sequences collected from the experiment. Our sequences were aligned with sequences from the SIMO database (name includes “SIMO”) as well as sequences of known Bacterial species (named in tree). Sequences collected from the initially sacrificed core are labeled “Initial”. Sequences from the salinity-amended samples have “RT” in the name, versus the unamended samples, which have “CT” in the name. Samples taken on day 9 are labeled “15”, samples from day 15 are labeled “23”, and samples taken from day 35 are labeled “41”. (PDF 3.11 MB)

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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer W. Edmonds
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nathaniel B. Weston
    • 2
  • Samantha B. Joye
    • 3
  • Xiaozhen Mou
    • 4
  • Mary Ann Moran
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and the EnvironmentVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesKent State UniversityKentUSA

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