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Title: Coupling among Microbial Communities, Biogeochemistry, and Mineralogy across Biogeochemical Facies

Physical properties of sediments are commonly used to define subsurface lithofacies and these same physical properties influence subsurface microbial communities. This suggests an (unexploited) opportunity to use the spatial distribution of facies to predict spatial variation in biogeochemically relevant microbial attributes. Here, we characterize three biogeochemical facies—oxidized, reduced, and transition—within one lithofacies and elucidate relationships among facies features and microbial community biomass, diversity, and community composition. Consistent with previous observations of biogeochemical hotspots at environmental transition zones, we find elevated biomass within a biogeochemical facies that occurred at the transition between oxidized and reduced biogeochemical facies. Microbial diversity—the number of microbial taxa—was lower within the reduced facies and was well-explained by a combination of pH and mineralogy. Null modeling revealed that microbial community composition was influenced by ecological selection imposed by redox state and mineralogy, possibly due to effects on nutrient availability or transport. As an illustrative case, we predict microbial biomass concentration across a three-dimensional spatial domain by coupling the spatial distribution of subsurface biogeochemical facies with biomass-facies relationships revealed here. We expect that merging such an approach with hydro-biogeochemical models will provide important constraints on simulated dynamics, thereby reducing uncertainty in model predictions.
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Scientific Reports, (6):30553
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States