Jul 12, 2016

Microbial Mat Functional and Compositional Sensitivity to Environmental Disturbance

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Eva C PreisnerRobert S Norman


The ability of ecosystems to adapt to environmental perturbations depends on the duration and intensity of change and the overall biological diversity of the system. While studies have indicated that rare microbial taxa may provide a biological reservoir that supports long-term ecosystem stability, how this dynamic population is influenced by environmental parameters remains unclear. In this study, a microbial mat ecosystem located on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas was used as a model to examine how environmental disturbance affects the activity of rare and abundant archaeal and bacterial communities and how these changes impact potential biogeochemical processes. While this ecosystem undergoes a range of seasonal variation, it experienced a large shift in salinity (230 to 65 g kg-1) during 2011-2012 following the landfall of Hurricane Irene on San Salvador Island. High throughput sequencing and analysis of 16S rRNA and rRNA genes from samples before and after the pulse disturbance showed significant changes in the diversity and activity of abundant and rare taxa, suggesting overall functional and compositional sensitivity to environmental change. In both archaeal and bacterial communities, while the majority of taxa showed l...Continue Reading

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