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Title: A Systems biology approach to energy flow in H2 producing microbial communities: Microbial mats

Abstract

This report describes the results of work conducted at NASA Ames Research Center, in collaboration with investigators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, during the time period 12/15/2014 to 12/15/2017. The work was an extension of a collaboration with LLNL that began in 2008. Work this reporting period focused primarily on tasks related to microbial mats from both the Elkhorn Slough and Baja California field sites, including the analysis and publication of data produced prior to 12/15/2014. During this reporting period, in addition to the microbial mat work, we also conducted a series of experiments with a particular algal-bacterial association (C. sorokiniana and A. brasilense). A number of aspects of this well-characterized algal-bacterial association enabled us not only to further our understanding of interactions between these particular organisms, but to apply that knowledge and techniques to our collection of microorganisms isolated from microbial mats. Microbial mat experiments focused both on intact mat communities and on cultures of organisms isolated from the mats (the Microbial Mat Living Library). In a series of co-culture experiments, we documented both positive and negative interactions amongst heterotrophic and autotrophic isolates of microbial mat microorganisms. One particularly important and novel mat cyanobacterium (ESFC-1) was studied in detail.more » We developed techniques to pursue an investigation of functional redundancy (the idea that closely related organisms perform identical roles in a community) in cyanobacterial autotrophs in the Elkhorn Slough microbial mat. In those experiments, we documented numerous instances of increases in growth rate between co-cultures of two organisms (relative to their growth rate in isolation) performing what would seem to be identical functional roles. Simplified microbial mat communities consisting of organisms from the Microbial Mat Living Library were constructed and studied in laboratory experiments. The “constructed mats” were grown in standard laboratory glassware and plasticware, but cultures were also combined with artificial materials in an effort to re-create the three dimensional structure of naturally occurring microbial mats. These constructed mats re-created a number of functions attributable to natural microbial mats (N-fixation, H2-production) and simplified their study using molecular ecological techniques due to the smaller number of microbial “species” present. Cyanobacteria which migrated in response to vertical variations in light intensity (irradiance) obtained characteristic positions in constructed mats that were similar to their positions in natural mats. A detailed investigation of nitrogen cycling in both the Baja California and Elkhorn Slough microbial mats was initiated during this reporting period. The nitrogen cycle in the microbial mats has not been studied in depth, despite the fact that nitrogen usually limits growth in marine environments. The organisms conducting nitrogen cycling in both microbial mats were studied using the genomes available from earlier work on these mats, as well as with a targeted approach using molecular ecological methods developed here. Quantitative measurements of rates of nitrogen transformations were made using stable isotopically labeled nitrogen. The processes quantified and examined using molecular ecological methods included: nitrogen fixation, ammonification, ammonium and nitrate assimilation, denitrification, anaerobic oxidation of ammonium, and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium. In a series of experiments designed to examine a potential application for microbial mats, we demonstrated that both Elkhorn Slough and Baja California microbial mats were very effective in removing large quantities of both nitrate and ammonium from waste streams containing these compounds at levels where they would be considered to be pollutants. Considerable effort was expended during this reporting period to analyze, and prepare for publication, metagenomes and metatranscriptomes collected from two experimental manipulations of microbial mats. The first, a diel study, was conducted in November 2011, while the second, an investigation of the effects of sulfate on community composition, was conducted during this reporting period. For the earlier study, reference-based and reference-free methods were used to assess microbial ecology and genetic partitioning in these complex microbial systems, and that work is available as a pre-print. Four metagenomes from the same experiment were published. In the second, longer (nearly 200 day) manipulation, rRNA iTag libraries for cDNA and DNA were analyzed to determine the effects of sulfate concentration on microbial mat community composition over the course of the experiment. Work on the algal-bacterial association (Chlorella sorokiniana and Azospirillum brasilense) focused initially on demonstrating the transfer of carbon and nitrogen between the partners, using stable isotopic labeling and the LLNL NanoSIMS. Subsequently, the potential role of diazotrophy (nitrogen fixation) by the bacterial partner in supporting the growth of the association was assessed in a series of experiments. It appears to be the case that, although the bacterial partner demonstrably increases the fitness of the algae under nitrogen limitation, and cells of C. sorokiniana receive nitrogen originally fixed from atmospheric nitrogen by A. brasilense, the amount of nitrogen obtained by diazotrophy is too small to explain the increase in fitness.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Ames Research Center
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1425657
Report Number(s):
DE-SC0012808 Final Report
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0012808
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
08 HYDROGEN; Microbial mats

Citation Formats

Bebout, Brad. A Systems biology approach to energy flow in H2 producing microbial communities: Microbial mats. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1425657.
Bebout, Brad. A Systems biology approach to energy flow in H2 producing microbial communities: Microbial mats. United States. doi:10.2172/1425657.
Bebout, Brad. Tue . "A Systems biology approach to energy flow in H2 producing microbial communities: Microbial mats". United States. doi:10.2172/1425657. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1425657.
@article{osti_1425657,
title = {A Systems biology approach to energy flow in H2 producing microbial communities: Microbial mats},
author = {Bebout, Brad},
abstractNote = {This report describes the results of work conducted at NASA Ames Research Center, in collaboration with investigators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, during the time period 12/15/2014 to 12/15/2017. The work was an extension of a collaboration with LLNL that began in 2008. Work this reporting period focused primarily on tasks related to microbial mats from both the Elkhorn Slough and Baja California field sites, including the analysis and publication of data produced prior to 12/15/2014. During this reporting period, in addition to the microbial mat work, we also conducted a series of experiments with a particular algal-bacterial association (C. sorokiniana and A. brasilense). A number of aspects of this well-characterized algal-bacterial association enabled us not only to further our understanding of interactions between these particular organisms, but to apply that knowledge and techniques to our collection of microorganisms isolated from microbial mats. Microbial mat experiments focused both on intact mat communities and on cultures of organisms isolated from the mats (the Microbial Mat Living Library). In a series of co-culture experiments, we documented both positive and negative interactions amongst heterotrophic and autotrophic isolates of microbial mat microorganisms. One particularly important and novel mat cyanobacterium (ESFC-1) was studied in detail. We developed techniques to pursue an investigation of functional redundancy (the idea that closely related organisms perform identical roles in a community) in cyanobacterial autotrophs in the Elkhorn Slough microbial mat. In those experiments, we documented numerous instances of increases in growth rate between co-cultures of two organisms (relative to their growth rate in isolation) performing what would seem to be identical functional roles. Simplified microbial mat communities consisting of organisms from the Microbial Mat Living Library were constructed and studied in laboratory experiments. The “constructed mats” were grown in standard laboratory glassware and plasticware, but cultures were also combined with artificial materials in an effort to re-create the three dimensional structure of naturally occurring microbial mats. These constructed mats re-created a number of functions attributable to natural microbial mats (N-fixation, H2-production) and simplified their study using molecular ecological techniques due to the smaller number of microbial “species” present. Cyanobacteria which migrated in response to vertical variations in light intensity (irradiance) obtained characteristic positions in constructed mats that were similar to their positions in natural mats. A detailed investigation of nitrogen cycling in both the Baja California and Elkhorn Slough microbial mats was initiated during this reporting period. The nitrogen cycle in the microbial mats has not been studied in depth, despite the fact that nitrogen usually limits growth in marine environments. The organisms conducting nitrogen cycling in both microbial mats were studied using the genomes available from earlier work on these mats, as well as with a targeted approach using molecular ecological methods developed here. Quantitative measurements of rates of nitrogen transformations were made using stable isotopically labeled nitrogen. The processes quantified and examined using molecular ecological methods included: nitrogen fixation, ammonification, ammonium and nitrate assimilation, denitrification, anaerobic oxidation of ammonium, and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium. In a series of experiments designed to examine a potential application for microbial mats, we demonstrated that both Elkhorn Slough and Baja California microbial mats were very effective in removing large quantities of both nitrate and ammonium from waste streams containing these compounds at levels where they would be considered to be pollutants. Considerable effort was expended during this reporting period to analyze, and prepare for publication, metagenomes and metatranscriptomes collected from two experimental manipulations of microbial mats. The first, a diel study, was conducted in November 2011, while the second, an investigation of the effects of sulfate on community composition, was conducted during this reporting period. For the earlier study, reference-based and reference-free methods were used to assess microbial ecology and genetic partitioning in these complex microbial systems, and that work is available as a pre-print. Four metagenomes from the same experiment were published. In the second, longer (nearly 200 day) manipulation, rRNA iTag libraries for cDNA and DNA were analyzed to determine the effects of sulfate concentration on microbial mat community composition over the course of the experiment. Work on the algal-bacterial association (Chlorella sorokiniana and Azospirillum brasilense) focused initially on demonstrating the transfer of carbon and nitrogen between the partners, using stable isotopic labeling and the LLNL NanoSIMS. Subsequently, the potential role of diazotrophy (nitrogen fixation) by the bacterial partner in supporting the growth of the association was assessed in a series of experiments. It appears to be the case that, although the bacterial partner demonstrably increases the fitness of the algae under nitrogen limitation, and cells of C. sorokiniana receive nitrogen originally fixed from atmospheric nitrogen by A. brasilense, the amount of nitrogen obtained by diazotrophy is too small to explain the increase in fitness.},
doi = {10.2172/1425657},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {3}
}