Geomicrobiology of the carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycles in Powell Lake: a permanently stratified water column containing ancient seawater

Environmental Microbiology
Sebastian HaasDouglas W R Wallace


We present the first geomicrobiological characterization of the meromictic water column of Powell Lake (British Columbia, Canada), a former fjord, which has been stably stratified since the last glacial period. Its deepest layers (300-350 m) retain isolated, relict seawater from that period. Fine-scale vertical profiling of the water chemistry and microbial communities allowed subdivision of the water column into distinct geomicrobiological zones. These zones were further characterized by phylogenetic and functional marker genes from amplicon and shotgun metagenome sequencing. Binning of metagenomic reads allowed the linkage of function to specific taxonomic groups. Statistical analyses (analysis of similarities, Bray-Curtis similarity) confirmed that the microbial community structure followed closely the geochemical zonation. Yet, our characterization of the genetic potential relevant to carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycling of each zone revealed unexpected features, including potential for facultative anaerobic methylotrophy, nitrogen fixation despite high ammonium concentrations and potential micro-aerobic nitrifiers within the chemocline. At the oxic-suboxic interface, facultative anaerobic potential was found in the widespr...Continue Reading


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Apr 28, 2021·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·Sebastian HaasDouglas W R Wallace

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