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      Microbial Communities in a High Arctic Polar Desert Landscape

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          The High Arctic is dominated by polar desert habitats whose microbial communities are poorly understood. In this study, we used next generation sequencing to describe the α- and β-diversity of microbial communities in polar desert soils from the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard. Ten phyla dominated the soils and accounted for 95% of all sequences, with the Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Chloroflexi being the major lineages. In contrast to previous investigations of Arctic soils, relative Acidobacterial abundances were found to be very low as were the Archaea throughout the Kongsfjorden polar desert landscape. Lower Acidobacterial abundances were attributed to characteristic circumneutral soil pHs in this region, which has resulted from the weathering of underlying carbonate bedrock. In addition, we compared previously measured geochemical conditions as possible controls on soil microbial communities. Phosphorus, pH, nitrogen, and calcium levels all significantly correlated with β-diversity, indicating landscape-scale lithological control of available nutrients, which in turn, significantly influenced soil community composition. In addition, soil phosphorus and pH significantly correlated with α-diversity, particularly with the Shannon diversity and Chao 1 richness indices.

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          Most cited references 57

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          QIIME allows analysis of high-throughput community sequencing data.

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            Identifying the dominant soil bacterial taxa in libraries of 16S rRNA and 16S rRNA genes.

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              The effect of permafrost thaw on old carbon release and net carbon exchange from tundra.

              Permafrost soils in boreal and Arctic ecosystems store almost twice as much carbon as is currently present in the atmosphere. Permafrost thaw and the microbial decomposition of previously frozen organic carbon is considered one of the most likely positive climate feedbacks from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere in a warmer world. The rate of carbon release from permafrost soils is highly uncertain, but it is crucial for predicting the strength and timing of this carbon-cycle feedback effect, and thus how important permafrost thaw will be for climate change this century and beyond. Sustained transfers of carbon to the atmosphere that could cause a significant positive feedback to climate change must come from old carbon, which forms the bulk of the permafrost carbon pool that accumulated over thousands of years. Here we measure net ecosystem carbon exchange and the radiocarbon age of ecosystem respiration in a tundra landscape undergoing permafrost thaw to determine the influence of old carbon loss on ecosystem carbon balance. We find that areas that thawed over the past 15 years had 40 per cent more annual losses of old carbon than minimally thawed areas, but had overall net ecosystem carbon uptake as increased plant growth offset these losses. In contrast, areas that thawed decades earlier lost even more old carbon, a 78 per cent increase over minimally thawed areas; this old carbon loss contributed to overall net ecosystem carbon release despite increased plant growth. Our data document significant losses of soil carbon with permafrost thaw that, over decadal timescales, overwhelms increased plant carbon uptake at rates that could make permafrost a large biospheric carbon source in a warmer world.

                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                31 March 2016
                : 7
                1School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
                2Department of Geology, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS, USA
                3Energy Bioengineering and Geomicrobiology, University of Calgary, Calgary AB, Canada
                Author notes

                Edited by: Brian D. Lanoil, University of Alberta, Canada

                Reviewed by: Sunita R. Shah Walter, Harvard University, USA; Charles K. Lee, University of Waikato, New Zealand; Magdalena Rose Osburn, Northwestern University, USA

                *Correspondence: David W. Graham, david.graham@ 123456newcastle.ac.uk

                This article was submitted to Extreme Microbiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology

                Copyright © 2016 McCann, Wade, Gray, Roberts, Hubert and Graham.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 61, Pages: 10, Words: 0
                Funded by: Natural Environment Research Council 10.13039/501100000270
                Award ID: NE/F00608X/1 and NE/F00608X/1
                Original Research

                Microbiology & Virology

                polar soils, biogeochemistry, microbial diversity, ecology, phosphorus


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