Publication Published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, May 2016

May 31, 2016

We are happy to announce that our first IGERT publication has been published. 

The authors are Christopher J. GravesElizabeth J. MakridesVictor T. SchmidtAnne E. GiblinZoe G. Cardon and David M. Rand and they publiched research covering the "Functional Responses of Salt Marsh Microbial Communities to Long-Term Nutrient Enrichment" in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, May 2016, Vol. 82, no. 9, pp 2862-2871. doi:10.1128/AEM.03990-15.

Environmental nutrient enrichment from human agricultural and waste runoff could cause changes to microbial communities that allow them to capitalize on newly available resources. Currently, the response of microbial communities to nutrient enrichment remains poorly understood, and, while some studies have shown no clear changes in community composition in response to heavy nutrient loading, others targeting specific genes have demonstrated clear impacts. In this study, we compared functional metagenomic profiles from sediment samples taken along two salt marsh creeks, one of which was exposed for more than 40 years to treated sewage effluent at its head. We identified strong and consistent increases in the relative abundance of microbial genes related to each of the biochemical steps in the denitrification pathway at enriched sites. Despite fine-scale local increases in the abundance of denitrification-related genes, the overall community structures based on broadly defined functional groups and taxonomic annotations were similar and varied with other environmental factors, such as salinity, which were common to both creeks. Homology-based taxonomic assignments of nitrous oxide reductase sequences in our data show that increases are spread over a broad taxonomic range, thus limiting detection from taxonomic data alone. Together, these results illustrate a functionally targeted yet taxonomically broad response of microbial communities to anthropogenic nutrient loading, indicating some resolution to the apparently conflicting results of existing studies on the impacts of nutrient loading in sediment communities.