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This content will become publicly available on July 12, 2019

Title: Testing the light:nutrient hypothesis: Insights into biofilm structure and function using metatranscriptomics

Aquatic biofilms are hotspots of biogeochemical activity due to concentrated microbial biomass (Battin, Kaplan, Newbold, & Hansen, 2003). However, biofilms are often considered a single entity when their role in biogeochemical transformations is assessed, even though these biofilms harbour functionally diverse microbial communities (Battin, Besemer, Bengtsson, Romani, & Packmann, 2016; Veach, Stegen, Brown, Dodds, & Jumpponen, 2016). Often overlooked are the biotic interactions among biofilm components that can affect ecosystem-scale processes such as primary production and nutrient cycling. These interactions are likely to be especially important under resource limitation. Light is a primary resource mediating algal photosynthesis and both phototrophic and heterotrophic production due to bacterial reliance on C-rich algal exudates (Cole, 1982). However, current understanding of function–structure linkages in streams has yet to unravel the relative degree of these microbial feedbacks under resource availability gradients. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Bengtsson, Wagner, Schwab, Urich, and Battin (2018) studied stream biofilm responses to light availability to understand its impact across three domains of life. By integrating biogeochemical rate estimation and metatranscriptomics within a microcosm experiment, they were able to link primary production and nutrient uptake rates to algal and bacterial metabolic processes and specify what taxa contributed to genemore » expression. Under low light, diatoms and cyanobacteria upregulated photosynthetic machinery and diatom-specific chloroplast rRNA suggesting heightened transcriptional activity under light limitation to maintain phototrophic energy demands. Under high light, heterotrophic bacteria upregulated mRNAs related to phosphorous (P) metabolism while biofilm P uptake increased indicating high bacterial-specific P demand when algal biomass was high. Together, these results indicate that biogeochemical function is mediated by complex microbial interactions across trophic levels.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Biosciences Division
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Climate Change Science Inst. and Environmental Sciences Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Molecular Ecology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 27; Journal Issue: 14; Journal ID: ISSN 0962-1083
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1464552