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      Tracking down carbon inputs underground from an arid zone Australian calcrete

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          Abstract

          Freshwater ecosystems play a key role in shaping the global carbon cycle and maintaining the ecological balance that sustains biodiversity worldwide. Surficial water bodies are often interconnected with groundwater, forming a physical continuum, and their interaction has been reported as a crucial driver for organic matter (OM) inputs in groundwater systems. However, despite the growing concerns related to increasing anthropogenic pressure and effects of global change to groundwater environments, our understanding of the dynamics regulating subterranean carbon flows is still sparse. We traced carbon composition and transformations in an arid zone calcrete aquifer using a novel multidisciplinary approach that combined isotopic analyses of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and inorganic carbon (DIC) (δ 13C DOC, δ 13C DIC, 14C DOC and 14C DIC) with fluorescence spectroscopy (Chromophoric Dissolved OM (CDOM) characterisation) and metabarcoding analyses (taxonomic and functional genomics on bacterial 16S rRNA). To compare dynamics linked to potential aquifer recharge processes, water samples were collected from two boreholes under contrasting rainfall: low rainfall ((LR), dry season) and high rainfall ((HR), wet season). Our isotopic results indicate limited changes and dominance of modern terrestrial carbon in the upper part (northeast) of the bore field, but correlation between HR and increased old and 13C-enriched DOC in the lower area (southwest). CDOM results show a shift from terrestrially to microbially derived compounds after rainfall in the same lower field bore, which was also sampled for microbial genetics. Functional genomic results showed increased genes coding for degradative pathways—dominated by those related to aromatic compound metabolisms—during HR. Our results indicate that rainfall leads to different responses in different parts of the bore field, with an increase in old carbon sources and microbial processing in the lower part of the field. We hypothesise that this may be due to increasing salinity, either due to mobilisation of Cl - from the soil, or infiltration from the downstream salt lake during HR. This study is the first to use a multi-technique assessment using stable and radioactive isotopes together with functional genomics to probe the principal organic biogeochemical pathways regulating an arid zone calcrete system. Further investigations involving extensive sampling from diverse groundwater ecosystems will allow better understanding of the microbiological pathways sustaining the ecological functioning of subterranean biota.

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          Most cited references 89

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          Terrestrial ecosystems and the carbon cycle

           David Schimel (1995)
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            Spectrofluorometric characterization of dissolved organic matter for indication of precursor organic material and aromaticity

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              Absorption spectral slopes and slope ratios as indicators of molecular weight, source, and photobleaching of chromophoric dissolved organic matter

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ValidationRole: Writing – original draft
                Role: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: ValidationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – original draft
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Funding acquisitionRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: Methodology
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: ResourcesRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Funding acquisitionRole: ValidationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: InvestigationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ResourcesRole: ValidationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ResourcesRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Funding acquisitionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                28 August 2020
                2020
                : 15
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ] WA-Organic Isotope Geochemistry Centre, The Institute for Geoscience Research, School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
                [2 ] School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
                [3 ] Collections and Research Centre, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool, WA, Australia
                [4 ] Trace and Environmental DNA Lab, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
                [5 ] Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze, Parma, Italy
                [6 ] Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Locked Bag Kirrawee DC, NSW, Australia
                [7 ] Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [8 ] Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
                [9 ] Department of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
                [10 ] Curtin Water Quality Research Centre, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia
                Shandong University, CHINA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Article
                PONE-D-20-08624
                10.1371/journal.pone.0237730
                7454941
                32857799
                © 2020 Saccò et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 0, Pages: 22
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Australian Research Council
                Award ID: LP140100555
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: AINSE
                Award ID: AINSE PGRA
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001797, Curtin University of Technology;
                Award ID: CIPRS
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: AINSE
                Award ID: AINSE Fellowship
                Award Recipient :
                This research was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant (LP140100555) to the University of Adelaide, Curtin University, and Flinders University, with industry partners, the Western Australian Museum, the South Australian Museum, Rio Tinto, Biota Environmental Sciences, Bennelongia Environmental Consultants and the Department of Parks and Wildlife (WA). The Environment Institute and School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, funded a lease of the Sturt Meadows calcrete bore field. MS is supported by a Curtin International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (CIPRS) and an AINSE postgraduate scholarship (PGRA). AB acknowledges an AINSE Research Fellowship (2012-2018). We acknowledge financial support from the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) for the Centre for Accelerator Science at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Earth Sciences
                Atmospheric Science
                Meteorology
                Rain
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Biochemistry
                Metabolism
                Metabolic Pathways
                Engineering and Technology
                Environmental Engineering
                Carbon Sequestration
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Ecology
                Biodiversity
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Ecology
                Biodiversity
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Biogeochemistry
                Physical Sciences
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                Ecology
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                Particle Physics
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                Extraction techniques
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                All relevant data are within the manuscript and its Supporting Information files.

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