Department of Biology

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Mark Lever

Eutrophication as a driver of microbial community structure in lake sediments

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  • Xingguo Han, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
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  • Carsten Johnny Schubert, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
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  • Annika Fiskal, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
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  • Nathalie Dubois, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
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  • Mark Alexander Lever

Lake sediments are globally important carbon sinks. Although the fate of organic carbon in lake sediments depends significantly on microorganisms, only few studies have investigated controls on lake sedimentary microbial communities. Here we investigate the impact of anthropogenic eutrophication, which affects redox chemistry and organic matter (OM) sources in sediments, on microbial communities across five lakes in central Switzerland. Lipid biomarkers and distributions of microbial respiration reactions indicate strong increases in aquatic OM contributions and microbial activity with increasing trophic state. Across all lakes, 16S rRNA genes analyses indicate similar depth-dependent zonations at the phylum- and class-level that follow vertical distributions of OM sources and respiration reactions. Yet, there are notable differences, such as higher abundances of nitrifying Bacteria and Archaea in an oligotrophic lake. Furthermore, analyses at the order-level and below suggest that changes in OM sources due to eutrophication cause permanent changes in bacterial community structure. By contrast, archaeal communities are differentiated according to trophic state in recently deposited layers, but converge in older sediments deposited under different trophic regimes. Our study indicates an important role for trophic state in driving lacustrine sediment microbial communities and reveals fundamental differences in the temporal responses of sediment Bacteria and Archaea to eutrophication.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Pages (from-to)3446-3462
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Anja Michel, Longhui Deng, Philip Eickenbusch, Lorenzo Lagostina and Rong Zhu for their help with field sampling, and the Genetic Diversity Centre of ETH Zurich for molecular biological, sequencing and bioinformatic support. We thank Serge Robert for helping with the extraction and measurement of biomarkers at Eawag. Xingguo Han was sponsored by Chinese Scholarship Council Grant No. 201606320219. The overall project is funded by Swiss National Science Foundation Project No. 205321_163371 to M.A.L.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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