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Impacts of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on terrestrial-aquatic carbon transfer and a downstream aquatic microbial community

An Author Correction to this article was published on 30 April 2018

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Under higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, increases in soil moisture and, hence in terrestrial-aquatic carbon transfer are probable. In a coupled terrestrial-aquatic experiment we examined the direct (e.g. through changes in the CO2 water concentration) and indirect (e.g. through changes in the quality and quantity of soil leachates) effects of elevated CO2 on a lake microbial community. The incubation of soils under elevated CO2 resulted in an increase in the volume of leachates and in both chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) absorption and fluorescence in leachate. When this leachate was added to lake water during a 3-day aquatic incubation, we observed negative direct effects of elevated CO2 on photosynthetic microorganism abundance and a positive, indirect effect on heterotrophic microbial community cell abundances. We also observed a strong, indirect impact on the functional structure of the community with higher metabolic capacities under elevated CO2 along with a significant direct effect on CDOM absorption. All of these changes point to a shift towards heterotrophic processes in the aquatic compartment under higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

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  • 30 April 2018

    Under higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations.


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This work was supported by the “Agence Nationale de la Recherche” (ANR CEP&S program - PULSE project, ANR-10-CEPL-010). The CEREEP-Ecotron Ile De France benefited from the support by CNRS and ENS, by the “Conseil régional d’Ile-de-France” (DIM R2DS Program “I-05-098/R”, “2011-11017735” & “2015-1657”), and by European Union (FEDER 2007–2013). The Ecolabs also benefited from the support received by the infrastructure PLANAQUA under the program “Investissements d’Avenir” launched by the French government and implemented by ANR with the references ANR-10-EQPX-13-01 Planaqua and ANR-11-INBS-0001 AnaEE France. This research was also supported by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), the UMR laboratories iEES-Paris and ESE. The authors also thank the members of the UMS 3194 CEREEP-Ecotron iDF and the group “Pochetron” for their invaluable help and encouragement during this work. We warmly thank Ross Holland from Aqua Cytometry (UK) for his precious contribution in the microbial counts by flow cytometry. Stuart Findlay is thanked for his helpful comments on an initial version of the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



GL, AN, ERN, LJ designed the experiments; GL, AN, LJ, ERN, SF, SC, ML, EDS, SB carried out the work; ERN, LJ, GL, SB, SF, AN interpreted the results and ERN, LJ, GL prepared the figures and wrote the manuscript that was revised and improved by all the coauthors.

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Correspondence to Emma Rochelle-Newall.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Rochelle-Newall, E., Niboyet, A., Jardiller, L. et al. Impacts of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on terrestrial-aquatic carbon transfer and a downstream aquatic microbial community. Aquat Sci 80, 27 (2018).

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  • Direct and indirect CO2 effects
  • Global change
  • Soil leachates
  • Allochthonous carbon
  • CDOM
  • Legacy