Effects of Volcanic Pumice Inputs on Microbial Community Composition and Dissolved C/P Ratios in Lake Waters: an Experimental Approach


Volcanic eruptions discharge massive amounts of ash and pumice that decrease light penetration in lakes and lead to concomitant increases in phosphorus (P) concentrations and shifts in soluble C/P ratios. The consequences of these sudden changes for bacteria community composition, metabolism, and enzymatic activity remain unclear, especially for the dynamic period immediately after pumice deposition. Thus, the main aim of our study was to determine how ambient bacterial communities respond to pumice inputs in lakes that differ in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and P concentrations and to what extent these responses are moderated by substrate C/P stoichiometry. We performed an outdoor experiment with natural lake water from two lakes that differed in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration. We measured nutrient concentrations, alkaline phosphatase activity (APA), and DOC consumption rates and assessed different components of bacterial community structure using next-generation sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Pumice inputs caused a decrease in the C/P ratio of dissolved resources, a decrease in APA, and an increase in DOC consumption, indicating reduced P limitation. These changes in bacteria metabolism were coupled with modifications in the assemblage composition and an increase in diversity, with increases in bacterial taxa associated with biofilm and sediments, in predatory bacteria, and in bacteria with gliding motility. Our results confirm that volcanic eruptions have the potential to alter nutrient partitioning and light penetration in receiving waterways which can have dramatic impacts on microbial community dynamics.

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This work was supported by the Fondo Para la Investigación Científica y Tecnológica Argentina [FONCyT PICT2240, PICT1168, PICT0929], the CONICET-NSF Cooperation Program, the US National Science Foundation, the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the National Geographic Society [NGS9005/11]. J.J.E. acknowledges support from the Fulbright Foundation.

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Correspondence to B. E. Modenutti.

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Fig. S1

Photographs of two lakes (a-Piré and b-Los Patos) covered with volcanic pumice during the Puyehue Cordón Caulle eruption. (GIF 1685 kb)

Fig. S2

Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) at the end of the experiment (T 15). (GIF 20 kb)

Fig. S3

Dynamics of the abundance of mixotrophic (MxNF) and heterotrophic (HNF) nanoflagellates in the different treatments. a: MxNF Lake Escondido, b: MxNF Lake Gutiérrez, c: HNF Lake Escondido, d: HNF Lake Gutiérrez. (GIF 33 kb)

Fig. S4

Total bacterial abundances in the different treatments during the experiment. (GIF 11 kb)

Fig. S5

Bacterial community structure at the start of the experiment (T 0). (GIF 38 kb)

Fig. S6

Rank-abundance curve for the 100 most abundant genera in each treatment. The y-axis is represented as average percent relative abundance. Please note the change in scale. (GIF 24 kb)

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Modenutti, B.E., Balseiro, E.G., Bastidas Navarro, M.A. et al. Effects of Volcanic Pumice Inputs on Microbial Community Composition and Dissolved C/P Ratios in Lake Waters: an Experimental Approach. Microb Ecol 71, 18–28 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-015-0707-3

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  • Eruption
  • Bacteria diversity
  • Dissolved resources