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See detailMicrodiversity characterizes prevalent phylogenetic clades in the glacier-fed stream microbiome
Fodelianakis, Styliianos; Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; Wilmes, Paul UL et al

in ISME Journal (2021)

Glacier-fed streams (GFSs) are extreme and rapidly vanishing ecosystems, and yet they harbor diverse microbial communities. Although our understanding of the GFS microbiome has recently increased, we do ... [more ▼]

Glacier-fed streams (GFSs) are extreme and rapidly vanishing ecosystems, and yet they harbor diverse microbial communities. Although our understanding of the GFS microbiome has recently increased, we do not know which microbial clades are ecologically successful in these ecosystems, nor do we understand potentially underlying mechanisms. Ecologically successful clades should be more prevalent across GFSs compared to other clades, which should be reflected as clade-wise distinctly low phylogenetic turnover. However, methods to assess such patterns are currently missing. Here we developed and applied a novel analytical framework, “phyloscore analysis”, to identify clades with lower spatial phylogenetic turnover than other clades in the sediment microbiome across twenty GFSs in New Zealand. These clades constituted up to 44% and 64% of community α-diversity and abundance, respectively. Furthermore, both their α-diversity and abundance increased as sediment chlorophyll a decreased, corroborating their ecological success in GFS habitats largely devoid of primary production. These clades also contained elevated levels of putative microdiversity than others, which could potentially explain their high prevalence in GFSs. This hitherto unknown microdiversity may be threatened as glaciers shrink, urging towards further genomic and functional exploration of the GFS microbiome. [less ▲]

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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 detailGlacier-fed stream biofilms harbour diverse resistomes and biosynthetic gene clusters 2021.11.18.469141
Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; de Nies, Laura UL; Pramateftaki, Paraskevi et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a universal phenomenon whose origins lay in natural ecological interactions such as competition within niches, within and between micro- to higher-order ... [more ▼]

Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a universal phenomenon whose origins lay in natural ecological interactions such as competition within niches, within and between micro- to higher-order organisms. However, the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping AMR need to be better understood in view of better antimicrobial stewardship. Resolving antibiotic biosynthetic pathways, including biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), and corresponding antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) may therefore help in understanding the inherent mechanisms. However, to study these phenomena, it is crucial to examine the origins of AMR in pristine environments with limited anthropogenic influences. In this context, epilithic biofilms residing in glacier-fed streams (GFSs) are an excellent model system to study diverse, intra- and inter-domain, ecological crosstalk.Results We assessed the resistomes of epilithic biofilms from GFSs across the Southern Alps (New Zealand) and the Caucasus (Russia) and observed that both bacteria and eukaryotes encoded twenty-nine distinct AMR categories. Of these, beta-lactam, aminoglycoside, and multidrug resistance were both abundant and taxonomically distributed in most of the bacterial and eukaryotic phyla. AMR-encoding phyla included Bacteroidota and Proteobacteria among the bacteria, alongside Ochrophyta (algae) among the eukaryotes. Additionally, BGCs involved in the production of antibacterial compounds were identified across all phyla in the epilithic biofilms. Furthermore, we found that several bacterial genera (Flavobacterium, Polaromonas, etc.) including representatives of the superphylum Patescibacteria encode both ARGs and BGCs within close proximity of each other, thereby demonstrating their capacity to simultaneously influence and compete within the microbial community.Conclusions Our findings highlight the presence and abundance of AMR in epilithic biofilms within GFSs. Additionally, we identify their role in the complex intra- and inter-domain competition and the underlying mechanisms influencing microbial survival in GFS epilithic biofilms. We demonstrate that eukaryotes may serve as AMR reservoirs owing to their potential for encoding ARGs. We also find that the taxonomic affiliation of the AMR and the BGCs are congruent. Importantly, our findings allow for understanding how naturally occurring BGCs and AMR contribute to the epilithic biofilms mode of life in GFSs. Importantly, these observations may be generalizable and potentially extended to other environments which may be more or less impacted by human activity.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.AMRAntimicrobial resistanceARGsAntimicrobial resistance gene(s)BGCBiosynthetic gene clustersCACaucasusCPRCandidate Phyla radiationGFSsGlacier-fed stream(s)GLGlacierIRS-RSisoleucyl-tRNA synthetase - high resistanceIMPIntegrate Meta-Omics PipelineKEGGKyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and GenomesMAGsMetagenome-assembled genome(s)NRPSNon-ribosomal peptide synthetasesPKSPolyketide synthases (type I and type II)RiPPsPost-translationally modified peptide(s)SASouthern Alps [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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