Table_1_Stability of Floodplain Subsurface Microbial Communities Through Seasonal Hydrological and Geochemical Cycles.XLSX (29.77 kB)
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Table_1_Stability of Floodplain Subsurface Microbial Communities Through Seasonal Hydrological and Geochemical Cycles.XLSX

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posted on 14.08.2020, 14:13 by Bradley B. Tolar, Kristin Boye, Callum Bobb, Kate Maher, John R. Bargar, Christopher A. Francis

Riparian floodplains represent an interaction zone between the terrestrial subsurface and rivers, where regional groundwater flows, infiltration, and evapotranspiration drive mixing of water and import/export of nutrients and contaminants. These dynamics create seasonally transient redox conditions that drive biogeochemical transformations, which strongly modify groundwater quality. Microbial responses to changing hydrological conditions are perhaps the critical step connecting hydrology to geochemical transformations and groundwater quality, yet are not well understood. We aimed to address this knowledge gap by monitoring seasonal transitions at the United States Department of Energy legacy uranium ore processing site in Riverton, WY, through spring-summer-fall hydrological transitions. Our goal was to characterize the microbial community throughout the soil profile, down to the saturated aquifer, and observe its response to wet-dry transitions across a full season and compare to changes in geochemistry and hydrology. Next-generation sequencing was employed to identify biogeochemically relevant microbial taxa based on the 16S rRNA gene; we found a broad diversity of microbial clades including taxa involved in sulfur and metal cycling, as well as nitrification. These data were paired with measurements of soil moisture, major nutrients and cations, and trace elements. Overall microbial community composition was dependent on soil depth or type, with seasonal effects only observed in the topsoil or subsurface aquifer. This finding indicates that microbial communities in the transiently reduced center of the soil profile at the Riverton, WY site are remarkably stable, despite moisture and redox inversions. In addition, these communities likely impact the communities in surrounding soil horizons through export of metabolites and solutes as the water table rises and falls throughout the season.

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