Ramoneda, J., Hawes, I., Pascual-García, A., J Mackey, T., Y Sumner, D., & D Jungblut, A. (2021). Importance of environmental factors over habitat connectivity in shaping bacterial communities in microbial mats and bacterioplankton in an Antarctic freshwater system. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 97(4). https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiab044
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14232
Freshwater ecosystems are considered hotspots of biodiversity in Antarctic polar deserts. Anticipated warming is expected to change the hydrology of these systems due to increased meltwater and reduction of ice cover, with implications for environmental conditions and physical connectivity between habitats. Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we evaluated microbial mat and planktonic communities within a connected freshwater system in the McMurdo Wright Valley, Antarctica, to determine the roles of connectivity and habitat conditions in controlling microbial assemblage composition. We examined communities from glacial Lake Brownworth, the perennially ice-covered Lake Vanda and the Onyx River, which connects the two. In Lake Vanda, we found distinct microbial assemblages occupying sub-habitats at different lake depths, while the communities from Lake Brownworth and Onyx River were structurally similar. Despite the higher physical connectivity and dispersal opportunities between bacterial communities in the shallow parts of the system, environmental abiotic conditions dominated over dispersal in driving community structure. Functional metabolic pathway predictions suggested differences in the functional gene potential between the microbial mat communities located in shallower and deeper water depths. The findings suggest that increasing temperatures and meltwater due to future climate change will affect bacterial diversity and functioning in Antarctic freshwater ecosystems.
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