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Eutrophication induced early stage hypoxic ‘dead zone’ sediment releases nitrate and stimulates growth of archaea
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Systems Biology of Microorganisms)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9005-5168
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the Baltic Sea, two annual algal blooms occur in spring and summer. The bloom intensity is determined by nutrient concentrations in the water column, while the period depends on weather conditions. During the course of the bloom, dead cells sink to the sediment where their degradation consumes oxygen to create hypoxic zones (< 2 mg/L dissolved oxygen, referred to as ‘dead zones’). These zones prevent the establishment of benthic communities and result in fish mortality. The aim of the study was to determine how the sediment chemistry and microbial community composition changed due to phytoplankton biomass degradation by adding cyanobacterial or diatom biomass to sediment cores from an all-year round oxic coastal Baltic Sea bay. After biomass addition, some typical anaerobic microbial processes were observed such as a decrease in NO2-+NO3- in the sediment surface (0-1 cm) and iron in the underlying layer (1-2 cm). In addition, an increase in NO2-+NO3- was observed in the water phase in all incubations (including controls without addition of phytoplankton biomass). The combination of NO2-+NO3- diffusion from the sediment plus nitrification of the available NH4+ could not account for this increase. Potential nitrogen sources that could at least partially explain this discrepancy included microbial nitrogen fixation and cycling of nitrogen compounds from deeper layers of the sediment. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, the addition of diatom biomass caused minor changes in the relative abundance of microbial community members while cyanobacterial biomass caused a large increase in ferrous iron-oxidizing archaea. Considering that OTUs sharing lineages with acidophilic microorganisms were present, it was suggested that specific niches developed in sediment microenvironments. These findings highlight the importance of nitrogen cycling in oxic sediments and early microbial community changes in the sediment surface due to sinking phytoplankton before major hypoxia events occur. The release of nitrate into the water could potentially enhance algal blooms and facilitate the development of ‘dead zones’.

National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecology, Microbiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-69708OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-69708DiVA, id: diva2:1172835
Available from: 2018-01-11 Created: 2018-01-11 Last updated: 2018-02-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ecology and evolution of coastal Baltic Sea 'dead zone' sediments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ecology and evolution of coastal Baltic Sea 'dead zone' sediments
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Since industrialization and the release of agricultural fertilizers began, coastal and open waters of the Baltic Sea have been loaded with nutrients. This has increased the growth of algal blooms and because a portion of the algal organic matter sinks to the sea floor, hypoxia has increased. In conjunction to this, natural stratification of the water column makes the bottom zones especially prone to oxygen depletion due to microbes using oxygen and organic matter to grow. Hypoxia (<2 mg/L O2) and anoxia (no oxygen) are deadly for many organisms and only specialists (typically some microorganisms) are able to survive. Due to the harsh conditions these bottom zones are commonly referred to as 'dead zones'. The focus of this thesis was to look closer at the microbial community changes upon degradation of algal organic matter and the effect of oxygenating coastal Baltic Sea 'dead zone' sediments on chemistry fluxes, phyto- and zooplankton, the microbial community structure, and microbial metabolic responses. Results from field sampling and incubation experiments showed that degradation of algal biomass in nutrient rich oxic sediment was partly related to the growth of archaea; that oxygenation of anoxic sediments decreased stored organic matter plus triggered hatching of zooplankton eggs increasing the benthic-pelagic coupling; and resting diatoms buried in hypoxic/anoxic sediment were alive and triggered to germinate by light rather than oxygen. Changes in the microbial community structures to oxygen shifts were dependent on the historical exposure to oxygen and that microbial generalists adapted to episodic oxygenation were favored during oxygen shifts. Facultative anaerobic sulfur/sulfide oxidizing bacterial genera were favored upon oxygenation of hypoxic/anoxic sediment plus sulfur cycling and nitrogen fixation genes were abundant. Finally, it was discovered that oxygenation regulates metabolic processes involved in the sulfur and methane cycles, especially by metabolic processes that results in a decrease of toxic hydrogen sulfide as well as the potent greenhouse gas methane. This thesis has explored how 'dead zones' change and develop during oxygen shifts and that re-oxygenation of ‘dead zones’ could bring favorable conditions in the sediment surface for reestablishment of new micro- and macroorganism communities.

Abstract [sv]

Arealerna av 'döda bottnar' i Östersjön har ökat som en följd av industrialiseringen och användandet av gödningsmedel. Föroreningen av Östersjöns kust och öppna vatten med näringsämnen leder till en ökad tillväxt av algblomningar. En del av dessa alger sjunker till havsbotten och orsakar att så kallad hypoxia utvecklas. Den naturliga stratifieringen av vattenkolummen avgränsar yt- och bottenvattnet vilket leder till att bottenzonen är speciellt utsatt för syrebrist. Detta eftersom mikroorganismer i bottensedimentet använder syre och organiskt material för att leva. Hypoxia (<2 mg/L O2) och anoxia (inget syre) är dödligt för de flesta organismer och endast specialiserade organismer (vanligtvis vissa mikroorganismer) kan överleva. Det är av denna anledning dessa bottenzoner ofta kallas för 'döda bottnar'. Målet med denna avhandling var att undersöka förändringar i de mikrobiologiska samhällena vid nedbrytning av organiskt algmaterial, och undersöka vilken effekt syresättning har på ekologin i döda bottensediment i Östersjöns kust. I mer detalj studerades kemiska flöden, växt- och djurplankton, samt mikrobiologiska samhällen och deras metaboliska processer. Resultaten från fältprovtagningar och inkubationer i laboratoriet visade att nedbrytning av algmaterial i syrerikt sediment till viss del gynnade arkéer; syretillsättning av anoxiska sediment minskade det lagrade organiska materialet och ledde till ökad kläckning av djurplanktonägg; vilande kiselalger begravda i hypoxisk/anoxisk sediment var levande och vaknade vid tillförsel av ljus snarare än syre. Förändringar i mikrobiologiska samhällen vid syreförändringar var beroende av historisk exponering av syre i sedimentytan. Det observerades också att mikroorganismer anpassade till episodiska förändringar i syre gynnades. Fakultativt anaerobiska svavel/sulfidoxiderande bakteriesläkten gynnades efter syresättning av hypoxisk/anoxiskt sediment och gener involverade i omvandling av svavelämnen och kvävefixering var vanliga. Slutligen visade resultaten att syresättning reglerar metaboliska processer involverade i kretsloppen för svavel och metan. Speciellt genom processer som leder till en minskning av den gifta gasen svavelväte och växthusgasen metan. Denna avhandling har undersökt hur döda bottensediment förändras och utvecklas vid skiftande syreförhållanden och visar att syresättning av 'döda bottnar' kan skapa gynnsamma förhållanden i sedimentytan för återetablering av mikro- och makroorganismsamhällen. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2018
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 302/2018
Keywords
Baltic Sea, sediment, oxygen, metatranscriptomics, metagenomics, 16S rRNA gene, RNA-seq, dead zone, re-oxygenation
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecology, Aquatic Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-69710 (URN)978-91-88761-00-2 (ISBN)978-91-88761-01-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-02-02, Fullriggaren, Landgången 4, Kalmar, 13:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-01-12 Created: 2018-01-11 Last updated: 2018-02-05Bibliographically approved

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Broman, EliasFridlund, JimmySvensson, FredrikLegrand, CatherineDopson, Mark

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