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Hydrological properties predict the composition of microbial communities cycling methane and nitrogen in rivers

Clark, Dave R and McKew, Boyd A and Binley, Andrew and Heppell, Catherine M and Whitby, Corinne and Trimmer, Mark (2022) 'Hydrological properties predict the composition of microbial communities cycling methane and nitrogen in rivers.' ISME Communications, 2 (1). ISSN 2730-6151

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Sediment microbial communities drive the biogeochemical cycles that make rivers globally important sources and sinks of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). The structure of these communities is strongly determined by the local physico-chemical environment. However, we currently lack an understanding of the factors that determine microbial community structures at the catchment scale. Here, we show that the contribution of groundwater to total river flow (quantified as base flow index; BFI) predicts the structure and diversity of the different microbial functional groups that cycle N and C across nine UK rivers, spanning a geological BFI gradient from 0.23 (clay sediment) to 0.95 (chalk gravel sediment). Furthermore, the GC-content (percentage of guanine-cytosine bases in a DNA sequence) and codon-usage bias of ammonia monooxygenase DNA sequences, and the hydrophobicity and net-charge of the corresponding amino acid sequences, were all strongly correlated with BFI, likely reflecting physiological adaptations to different riverbed sediment structure along the BFI gradient. Our results offer an opportunity to overcome the “paradox of scales” that has seen microbial ecologists focus on small- rather than large-scale environmental variables, enabling us to scale-up our understanding of microbial biogeochemistry to the catchment and beyond.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 May 2022 15:08
Last Modified: 20 May 2022 15:08

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