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  • 1
    Call number: AWI Bio-21-94540
    Description / Table of Contents: This thesis investigates how the permafrost microbiota responds to global warming. In detail, the constraints behind methane production in thawing permafrost were linked to methanogenic activity, abundance and composition. Furthermore, this thesis offers new insights into microbial adaptions to the changing environmental conditions during global warming. This was assesed by investigating the potential ecological relevant functions encoded by plasmid DNA within the permafrost microbiota. Permafrost of both interglacial and glacial origin spanning the Holocene to the late Pleistocene, including Eemian, were studied during long-term thaw incubations. Furthermore, several permafrost cores of different stratigraphy, soil type and vegetation cover were used to target the main constraints behind methane production during short-term thaw simulations. Short- and long-term incubations simulating thaw with and without the addition of substrate were combined with activity measurements, amplicon and metagenomic sequencing of permanently frozen and seasonally thawed active layer. Combined, it allowed to address the following questions. i) What constraints methane production when permafrost thaws and how is this linked to methanogenic activity, abundance and composition? ii) How does the methanogenic community composition change during long-term thawing conditions? iii) Which potential ecological relevant functions are encoded by plasmid DNA in active layer soils? The major outcomes of this thesis are as follows. i) Methane production from permafrost after long-term thaw simulation was found to be constrained mainly by the abundance of methanogens and the archaeal community composition. Deposits formed during periods of warmer temperatures and increased precipitation, (here represented by deposits from the Late Pleistocene of both interstadial and interglacial periods) were found to respond strongest to thawing conditions and to contain an archaeal community dominated by methanogenic archaea (40% and 100% of all detected archaea). Methanogenic population size and carbon density were identified as main predictors for potential methane production in thawing permafrost in short-term incubations when substrate was sufficiently available. ii) Besides determining the methanogenic activity after long-term thaw, the paleoenvironmental conditions were also found to influence the response of the methanogenic community composition. Substantial shifts within methanogenic community structure and a drop in diversity were observed in deposits formed during warmer periods, but not in deposits from stadials, when colder and drier conditions occurred. Overall, a shift towards a dominance of hydrogenotrophic methanogens was observed in all samples, except for the oldest interglacial deposits from the Eemian, which displayed a potential dominance of acetoclastic methanogens. The Eemian, which is discussed to serve as an analogue to current climate conditions, contained highly active methanogenic communities. However, all potential limitation of methane production after permafrost thaw, it means methanogenic community structure, methanogenic population size, and substrate pool might be overcome after permafrost had thawed on the long-term. iii) Enrichments with soil from the seasonally thawed active layer revealed that its plasmid DNA (‘metaplasmidome’) carries stress-response genes. In particular it encoded antibiotic resistance genes, heavy metal resistance genes, cold shock proteins and genes encoding UV-protection. Those are functions that are directly involved in the adaptation of microbial communities to stresses in polar environments. It was further found that metaplasmidomes from the Siberian active layer originate mainly from Gammaproteobacteria. By applying enrichment cultures followed by plasmid DNA extraction it was possible to obtain a higher average contigs length and significantly higher recovery of plasmid sequences than from extracting plasmid sequences from metagenomes. The approach of analyzing ‘metaplasmidomes’ established in this thesis is therefore suitable for studying the ecological role of plasmids in polar environments in general. This thesis emphasizes that including microbial community dynamics have the potential to improve permafrost-carbon projections. Microbially mediated methane release from permafrost environments may significantly impact future climate change. This thesis identified drivers of methanogenic composition, abundance and activity in thawing permafrost landscapes. Finally, this thesis underlines the importance to study how the current warming Arctic affects microbial communities in order to gain more insight into microbial response and adaptation strategies.
    Type of Medium: Dissertations
    Pages: VI, 243 Seiten , Diagramme, Illustrationen
    Language: English
    Note: Dissertation, Universität Potsdam, 2020
    Location: AWI Reading room
    Branch Library: AWI Library
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2015-06-26
    Description: Submarine permafrost degradation has been invoked as a cause for recent observations of methane emissions from the seabed to the water column and atmosphere of the East Siberian shelf. Sediment drilled 52 m down from the sea ice in Buor Khaya Bay, central Laptev Sea revealed unfrozen sediment overlying ice-bonded permafrost. Methane concentrations in the overlying unfrozen sediment were low (mean 20 µM) but higher in the underlying ice-bonded submarine permafrost (mean 380 µM). In contrast, sulfate concentrations were substantially higher in the unfrozen sediment (mean 2.5 mM) than in the underlying submarine permafrost (mean 0.1 mM). Using deduced permafrost degradation rates, we calculate potential mean methane efflux from degrading permafrost of 120 mg m−2 yr−1 at this site. However, a drop of methane concentrations from 190 µM to 19 µM and a concomitant increase of methane δ13C from −63‰ to −35‰ directly above the ice-bonded permafrost suggest that methane is effectively oxidized within the overlying unfrozen sediment before it reaches the water column. High rates of methane ebullition into the water column observed elsewhere are thus unlikely to have ice-bonded permafrost as their source.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2017-03-17
    Description: The changing climate in the Arctic has a profound impact on permafrost coasts, which are subject to intensified thermokarst formation and erosion. Consequently, terrestrial organic matter (OM) is mobilized and transported into the nearshore zone. Yet, little is known about the fate of mobilized OM before and after entering the ocean. In this study we investigated a retrogressive thaw slump (RTS) on Qikiqtaruk - Herschel Island (Yukon coast, Canada). The RTS was classified into an undisturbed, a disturbed (thermokarst-affected) and a nearshore zone and sampled systematically along transects. Samples were analyzed for total and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (TOC, DOC, TN, DN), stable carbon isotopes (δ13C-TOC, δ13C-DOC), and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), which were compared between the zones. C/N-ratios, δ13C signatures, and ammonium (NH4-N) concentrations were used as indicators for OM degradation along with biomarkers (n-alkanes, n-fatty acids, n-alcohols). Our results show that OM significantly decreases after disturbance with a TOC and DOC loss of 77 and 55% and a TN and DN loss of 53 and 48%, respectively. C/N-ratios decrease significantly, whereas NH4-N concentrations slightly increase in freshly thawed material. In the nearshore zone, OM contents are comparable to the disturbed zone. We suggest that the strong decrease in OM is caused by initial dilution with melted massive ice and immediate offshore transport via the thaw stream. In the mudpool and thaw stream, OM is subject to degradation, whereas in the slump floor the nitrogen decrease is caused by recolonizing vegetation. Within the nearshore zone of the ocean, heavier portions of OM are directly buried in marine sediments close to shore. We conclude that RTS have profound impacts on coastal environments in the Arctic. They mobilize nutrients from permafrost, substantially decrease OM contents and provide fresh water and nutrients at a point source.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-05-27
    Description: Thawing submarine permafrost is a source of methane to the subsurface biosphere. Methane oxidation in submarine permafrost sediments has been proposed, but the responsible microorganisms remain uncharacterized. We analyzed archaeal communities and identified distinct anaerobic methanotrophic assemblages of marine and terrestrial origin (ANME-2a/b, ANME-2d) both in frozen and completely thawed submarine permafrost sediments. Besides archaea potentially involved in anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) we found a large diversity of archaea mainly belonging to Bathyarchaeota, Thaumarchaeota, and Euryarchaeota. Methane concentrations and δ13C-methane signatures distinguish horizons of potential AOM coupled either to sulfate reduction in a sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) or to the reduction of other electron acceptors, such as iron, manganese or nitrate. Analysis of functional marker genes (mcrA) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) corroborate potential activity of AOM communities in submarine permafrost sediments at low temperatures. Modeled potential AOM consumes 72–100% of submarine permafrost methane and up to 1.2 Tg of carbon per year for the total expected area of submarine permafrost. This is comparable with AOM habitats such as cold seeps. We thus propose that AOM is active where submarine permafrost thaws, which should be included in global methane budgets.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2018-08-13
    Description: see pdf of extended abstract
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Conference , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2018-08-24
    Description: Introduction: Thawing arctic subsea permafrost is a source of organic carbon in deep sediment layers. The permafrost that is at its thermal equilibrium releases biologically produced methane and a deep sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) is formed due to sulfate-rich overlaying marine sediment layers. The process of methane oxidation in this anaerobic environment has been suggested1 but AOM associated microbial communities remain to be identified. Objectives: We aimed at providing evidence for anaerobic methanotrophic (ANME) archaeal communities at the deep SMTZ of the north-east Siberian Laptev Sea shelf. Material and methods: Two sediment cores were retrieved (77 m and 47.4 m deep) from the coastal shelf north of Cape Mamontov Klyk ‘C2’ (11.5 km offshore) and west to the Buor Khaya Peninsula ‘BK2’ (800 m offshore), respectively. Methane and sulfate concentrations as well as 13C isotope values of CH4 were measured and correlated with molecular analysis of microbial communities along the thaw front. Results: At the thaw front of BK2, at 23.7 meters below sea floor (mbsf) biologically produced methane (13 C= -70‰ VPDB) gets oxidized (13C= -29.8 ‰ VPDB)1. At the same depth, we found an increase in functional genes of methanogenic archaea (mcrA) and sulfate reducing bacteria (dsrB) analysed by quantitative PCR. Massive parallel tag-sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene showed an increase of ANME-2a/2b and ANME-2d sequences towards the thaw front in both cores. At the thaw front of the BK2 core, typical ANME-2 partners of the Desulfobacterales2were found to dominate the sulfate reducing bacterial community, whereas Desulfobaccasequences dominate in all samples of the C2 core. Theoretical methane oxidation rates (0.4-6 nmol cm-3d-1)1based on estimated methane fluxes showed higher values than typically found in subsurface sediments and are more similar to rates of margin SMTZs3. Conclusion: Our data indicate that active anaerobic methane oxidizer communities at the thaw front of subsea permafrost prevent methane from being released into the water column and subsequently to the atmosphere. Further analyses on lipid biomarkers and 14C-CH4isotopic rate measurements will determine how active these communities are in situ. 1. Overduin, P. P. et al.Methane oxidation following submarine permafrost degradation: Measurements from a central Laptev Sea shelf borehole. J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosciences2014JG002862 (2015). 2. Schreiber, L., Holler, T., Knittel, K., Meyerdierks, A. & Amann, R. Identification of the dominant sulfate-reducing bacterial partner of anaerobic methanotrophs of the ANME-2 clade. Environ. Microbiol.12, 2327-2340 (2010). 3. Knittel, K. & Boetius, A. Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane: Progress with an Unknown Process. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 63, 311-334 (2009).
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Conference , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-03-21
    Description: We have developed a new module to calculate soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in perennially frozen ground in the land surface model JSBACH. Running this offline version of MPI-ESM we have modelled long-term permafrost carbon accumulation and release from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the pre-industrial (PI) age. Our simulated near-surface PI permafrost extent of 16.9 × 106 km2 is close to observational estimates. Glacial boundary conditions, especially ice sheet coverage, result in profoundly different spatial patterns of glacial permafrost extent. Deglacial warming leads to large-scale changes in soil temperatures, manifested in permafrost disappearance in southerly regions, and permafrost aggregation in formerly glaciated grid cells. In contrast to the large spatial shift in simulated permafrost occurrence, we infer an only moderate increase in total LGM permafrost area (18.3 × 106 km2) – together with pronounced changes in the depth of seasonal thaw. Earlier empirical reconstructions suggest a larger spread of permafrost towards more southerly regions under glacial conditions, but with a highly uncertain extent of non-continuous permafrost. Compared to a control simulation without describing the transport of SOC into perennially frozen ground, the implementation of our newly developed module for simulating permafrost SOC accumulation leads to a doubling of simulated LGM permafrost SOC storage (amounting to a total of ∼ 150 PgC). Despite LGM temperatures favouring a larger permafrost extent, simulated cold glacial temperatures – together with low precipitation and low CO2 levels – limit vegetation productivity and therefore prevent a larger glacial SOC build-up in our model. Changes in physical and biogeochemical boundary conditions during deglacial warming lead to an increase in mineral SOC storage towards the Holocene (168 PgC at PI), which is below observational estimates (575 PgC in continuous and discontinuous permafrost). Additional model experiments clarified the sensitivity of simulated SOC storage to model parameters, affecting long-term soil carbon respiration rates and simulated ALDs. Rather than a steady increase in carbon release from the LGM to PI as a consequence of deglacial permafrost degradation, our results suggest alternating phases of soil carbon accumulation and loss as an effect of dynamic changes in permafrost extent, ALDs, soil litter input, and heterotrophic respiration.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-01-31
    Description: Coastal ecosystems in the Arctic are affected by climate change. As summer rainfall frequency and intensity are projected to increase in the future, more organic matter, nutrients and sediment could be mobilized and transported into the coastal nearshore zones. However, knowledge of current processes and future changes is limited. We investigated streamflow dynamics and the impacts of summer rainfall on lateral fluxes in a small coastal catchment on Herschel Island in the western Canadian Arctic. For the summer monitoring periods of 2014–2016, mean dissolved organic matter flux over 17 days amounted to 82.7 ± 30.7 kg km−2 and mean total dissolved solids flux to 5252 ± 1224 kg km−2. Flux of suspended sediment was 7245 kg km−2 in 2015, and 369 kg km−2 in 2016. We found that 2.0% of suspended sediment was composed of particulate organic carbon. Data and hysteresis analysis suggest a limited supply of sediments; their interannual variability is most likely caused by short-lived localized disturbances. In contrast, our results imply that dissolved organic carbon is widely available throughout the catchment and exhibits positive linear relationship with runoff. We hypothesize that increased projected rainfall in the future will result in a similar increase of dissolved organic carbon fluxes.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-04-03
    Description: Permafrost deposits have been a sink for atmospheric carbon for millennia. Thaw-erosional processes, however, can lead to rapid degradation of ice-rich permafrost and the release of substantial amounts of organic carbon (OC). The amount of the OC stored in these deposits and their potential to be microbially decomposed to the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) depends on climatic and environmental conditions during deposition and the decomposition history before incorporation into the permafrost. Here, we examine potential greenhouse gas production as a result of degrading ice-rich permafrost deposits from three locations in the northeastern Siberian Laptev Sea region. The deposits span a period of about 55 kyr from the last glacial period and Holocene interglacial. Samples from all three locations were incubated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions for 134 days at 4 °C. Greenhouse gas production was generally higher in deposits from glacial periods, where 0.2 %–6.1% of the initially available OC was decomposed to CO2. In contrast, only 0.1 %–4.0% of initial OC was decomposed in permafrost deposits from the Holocene and the late glacial transition. Within the deposits from the Kargin interstadial period (Marine Isotope Stage 3), local depositional environments, especially soil moisture, also affected the preservation of OC. Sediments deposited under wet conditions contained more labile OC and thus produced more greenhouse gases than sediments deposited under drier conditions. To assess the greenhouse gas production potentials over longer periods, deposits from two locations were incubated for a total of 785 days. However, more than 50% of total CO2 production over 785 days occurred within the first 134 days under aerobic conditions, while 80% were produced over the same period under anaerobic conditions, which emphasizes the nonlinearity of the OC decomposition processes. Methanogenesis was generally observed in active layer samples but only sporadically in permafrost samples and was several orders of magnitude smaller than CO2 production
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-01-01
    Description: The Siberian Laptev Sea shelf contains submarine permafrost, which was formed by flooding of terrestrial permafrost with ocean water during the Holocene sea level rise. This flooding resulted in a warming of the permafrost to temperatures close below 0°C. The impact of these environmental changes on methanogenic communities and carbon dynamics in the permafrost was studied in a submarine permafrost core of the Siberian Laptev Sea shelf. Total organic carbon (TOC) content varied between 0.03% and 8.7% with highest values between 53 and 62 m depth below sea floor. In the same depth, maximum methane concentrations (284 nmol CH4 g−1) and lowest carbon isotope values of methane (−72.2‰ VPDB) were measured, latter indicating microbial formation of methane under in situ conditions. The archaeal community structure was assessed by a nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification for DGGE, followed by sequencing of reamplified bands. Submarine permafrost samples showed a different archaeal community than the nearby terrestrial permafrost. Samples with high methane concentrations were dominated by sequences affiliated rather to the methylotrophic genera Methanosarcina and Methanococcoides as well as to uncultured archaea. The presented results give the first insights into the archaeal community in submarine permafrost and the first evidence for their activity at in situ conditions.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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