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Microbial loop of Proterozoic ocean analogue

By Jaspreet Singh Saini, Christel Hassler, Rachel Cable, Marion Fourquez, Francesco Danza, Samuele Roman, Mauro Tonolla, Nicola Storelli, Stephan Jacquet, Evgeny M Zdobnov, Melissa B. Duhaime

Posted 18 Aug 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.17.456685

Meromictic Lake Cadagno, an ancient ocean analogue, is known for its permanent stratification and persistent anoxygenic microbial bloom within the chemocline. Although the anaerobic microbial ecology of the lake has been extensively studied for at least 25 years, a comprehensive picture of the microbial food web linking the bacterial layer to phytoplankton and viruses, with explicit measures of primary and secondary production, is still missing. This study sought to better understand the abundances and productivity of microbes in the context of nutrient biogeochemical cycling across the stratified zones of Lake Cadagno. Photosynthetic pigments and chloroplast 16S rRNA gene phylogenies suggested the presence of eukaryotic phytoplankton through the water column. Evidence supported high abundances of Ankyra judayi, a high-alpine adapted chlorophyte, in the oxic mixolimnion where oxygenic-primary production peaked. Through the no- and low-oxygen chemocline and monimolimnion, chlorophytes related to Closteriopsis acicularis, a known genus of meromictic lakes, and Parachlorella kessleri were observed. Chromatium, anoxygenic phototrophic sulfur bacteria, dominated the chemocline along with Lentimicrobium, a genus of known fermenters whose abundance was newly reported in Lake Cadagno. Secondary production peaked in the chemocline suggesting primary producers depend on hetrotrophs for nutrient remineralization. As previously observed, sulfur reducing bacteria (SRBs), especially Desulfocapsa and Desulfobulbus, were present in the chemocline and anoxic monimolimnion. Virus-to-microbe ratios (VMR) peaked in the zone of phytoplankton, yet were at a minimum at the peak of Chromatium. These dynamic trends suggest viruses may play a role in the modulation of oxygenic and anoxygenic photo- and chemosynthesis in Lake Cadagno and other permanently stratified systems.

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