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See detailGenomic and metabolic adaptations of biofilms to ecological windows of opportunities in glacier-fed streams 2021.10.07.463499
Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; Bourquin, Massimo; Fodelianakis, Stilianos et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Microorganisms dominate life in cryospheric ecosystems. In glacier-fed streams (GFSs), ecological windows of opportunities allow complex microbial biofilms to develop and transiently form the basis of the ... [more ▼]

Microorganisms dominate life in cryospheric ecosystems. In glacier-fed streams (GFSs), ecological windows of opportunities allow complex microbial biofilms to develop and transiently form the basis of the food web, thereby controlling key ecosystem processes. Here, using high-resolution metagenomics, we unravel strategies that allow biofilms to seize this opportunity in an ecosystem otherwise characterized by harsh environmental conditions. We found a diverse microbiome spanning the entire tree of life and including a rich virome. Various and co-existing energy acquisition pathways point to diverse niches and the simultaneous exploitation of available resources, likely fostering the establishment of complex biofilms in GFSs during windows of opportunity. The wide occurrence of rhodopsins across metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), besides chlorophyll, highlights the role of solar energy capture in these biofilms. Concomitantly, internal carbon and nutrient cycling between photoautotrophs and heterotrophs may help overcome constraints imposed by the high oligotrophy in GFSs. MAGs also revealed mechanisms potentially protecting bacteria against low temperatures and high UV-radiation. The selective pressure of the GFS environment is further highlighted by the phylogenomic analysis, differentiating the representatives of the genus Polaromonas, an important component of the GFS microbiome, from those found in other ecosystems. Our findings reveal key genomic underpinnings of adaptive traits that contribute to the success of complex biofilms to exploit environmental opportunities in GFSs, now rapidly changing owing to global warming.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest. [less ▲]

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See detailPatterns and Drivers of Extracellular Enzyme Activity in New Zealand Glacier-Fed Streams
Kohler, Tyler J.; Peter, Hannes; Fodelianakis, Stilianos et al

in Frontiers in Microbiology (2020), 11

Glacier-fed streams (GFSs) exhibit near-freezing temperatures, variable flows, and often high turbidities. Currently, the rapid shrinkage of mountain glaciers is altering the delivery of meltwater ... [more ▼]

Glacier-fed streams (GFSs) exhibit near-freezing temperatures, variable flows, and often high turbidities. Currently, the rapid shrinkage of mountain glaciers is altering the delivery of meltwater, solutes, and particulate matter to GFSs, with unknown consequences for their ecology. Benthic biofilms dominate microbial life in GFSs, and play a major role in their biogeochemical cycling. Mineralization is likely an important process for microbes to meet elemental budgets in these systems due to commonly oligotrophic conditions, and extracellular enzymes retained within the biofilm enable the degradation of organic matter and acquisition of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P). The measurement and comparison of these extracellular enzyme activities (EEA) can in turn provide insight into microbial elemental acquisition effort relative to environmental availability. To better understand how benthic biofilm communities meet resource demands, and how this might shift as glaciers vanish under climate change, we investigated biofilm EEA in 20 GFSs varying in glacier influence from New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Using turbidity and distance to the glacier snout normalized for glacier size as proxies for glacier influence, we found that bacterial abundance (BA), chlorophyll a (Chl a), extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), and total EEA per gram of sediment increased with decreasing glacier influence. Yet, when normalized by BA, EPS decreased with decreasing glacier influence, Chl a still increased, and there was no relationship with total EEA. Based on EEA ratios, we found that the majority of GFS microbial communities were N-limited, with a few streams of different underlying bedrock geology exhibiting P-limitation. Cell-specific C-acquiring EEA was positively related to the ratio of Chl a to BA, presumably reflecting the utilization of algal exudates. Meanwhile, cell-specific N-acquiring EEA were positively correlated with the concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), and both N- and P-acquiring EEA increased with greater cell-specific EPS. Overall, our results reveal greater glacier influence to be negatively related to GFS biofilm biomass parameters, and generally associated with greater microbial N demand. These results help to illuminate the ecology of GFS biofilms, along with their biogeochemical response to a shifting habitat template with ongoing climate change. [less ▲]

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