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Time-resolved microbial guild responses to tidal cycling in a coastal acid-sulfate system
Tidal inundation has been trialed as a remediation strategy for coastal acid-sulfate soil (CASS) environments. Microbial community structure and activity are hypothesized to play key roles in this process, but remain poorly understood for long-term (decadal or longer) CASS ecosystems. More detailed understanding of the distribution and timing of microbial activity in CASS ecosystems is necessary to evaluate their real bioremediation potential. In this study, we compared 16S ribosomal DNA and RNA (as cDNA, a proxy for overall enzymatic activity) sequence datasets to characterize and resolve microbial community structure, and activity across a tidal cycle in the East Trinity long-term CASS wetland (Queensland, Australia). The timing and extent of activity among abundant (>1%) and rare (<0.1%) microbial taxa showed that a larger number of rare members (phylotype) displayed greater overall range in activity than was apparent for more abundant members. Certain taxa from both abundant and rare populations varied rapidly in their 16S rRNA levels in response to tidal cycling. The observation of rRNA accumulation in response to drying and rewetting was used to divided the microbial community structure into “early responders” (within 3 hours of dry-down or wet-up) and “delayed responders” (3+ hours after wet-up). Response patterns were phylogenetically constrained across supra- to sub-tidal zones across all tidal stages. Microbial iron- and sulfur-cycling networks included these rare but active taxa, illustrating their spatio-temporal complexity, which should be considered for an accurate assessment of bioremediation efficiency, and specially for validating predictive biogeochemical models of long-term CASS ecosystems.
EN16203 Accepted 07 May 2017
© CSIRO 2017