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Partitioning benthic nitrogen cycle processes among three common macrofauna holobionts

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  • Mindaugas Zilius, University of Ferrara
  • ,
  • Darius Daunys, Univ Klaipeda, Klaipeda University, Marine Res Inst
  • ,
  • Marco Bartoli, University of Parma
  • ,
  • Ugo Marzocchi
  • Stefano Bonaglia, Syddansk Universitet
  • ,
  • Ulisse Cardini, Natl Inst Marine Biol Ecol & Biotechnol, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn di Napoli, Integrat Marine Ecol Dept, Stn Zool Anton Dohrn
  • ,
  • Giuseppe Castaldelli, University of Ferrara

The effects of single macrofauna taxa on benthic nitrogen (N) cycling have been extensively studied, whereas how macrofaunal communities affect N-related processes remains poorly explored. In this study, we characterized benthic N-cycling in bioturbated sediments of the oligotrophic ore Estuary (northern Baltic Sea). Solute fluxes and N transformations (N-2 fixation, denitrification and dissimilative nitrate reduction to ammonium [DNRA]) were measured in sediments and macrofauna-associated microbes (holobionts) to partition the role of three dominant taxa (the filter feeder Limecola balthica, the deep deposit feeder Marenzelleria spp., and the surface deposit feeder Monoporeia affinis) in shaping N-cycling. In the studied area, benthic macrofauna comprised a low diversity community with dominance of the three taxa, which are widespread and dominant in the Baltic. The biomass of these taxa in macrofaunal community explained up to 30% of variation in measured biogeochemical processes, confirming their important role in ecosystem functioning. The results also show that these taxa significantly contributed to the benthic metabolism and N-cycling (direct effect) as well as to sediments bioturbation with positive feedback to dissimilative nitrate reduction (indirect effect). Taken together, these functions promoted a reuse of nutrients at the benthic level, limiting net losses (e.g. denitrification) and effluxes to bottom water. Finally, the detection of multiple N transformations in macrofauna holobionts suggested a community-associated versatile microbiome, however, its role was of minor importance as compared to the activity of sediment-associated microbial communities. The present study highlights hidden and interactive effects among microbes and macrofauna, which should be considered analysing benthic functioning.

Sider (fra-til)193-213
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - 15 okt. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the “Invertebrate–Bacterial Associations as Hotpots of Benthic Nitrogen Cycling in Estuarine Ecosystems (INBALANCE)” project funded by the European Social Fund (Project No. 09.3.3-LMT-K-712-01-0069) under grant agreement with the Research Council of Lithuania (LMTLT). Additional support to S.B. was provided by the Swedish Research Council Formas (Project No. 2017-01513) and U.M. was supported by Grundfos Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

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