Water-mediated linkages that connect landscape components are collectively referred to as hydrologic connectivity. In river-floodplain systems, quantifying hydrologic connectivity enables descriptions of hydrologic function that emerge from complex, heterogeneous interactions of underlying geomorphic, climatic and biologic controls. Here, we measure hydrologic connectivity using field indicators and develop a continuous connectivity metric that represents a vector strength between a source along the North St Vrain river to ten surface water target sites within the river-floodplain system. To measure this connectivity strength, we analyzed hydrometric, injected conservative tracers, and natural occurring geochemical and microbial indicators across streamflows in 2018. We developed empirical models of hydrologic connectivity as a function of river stage to predict daily connectivity strength across multiple floodplain sites for five years between May and September of 2016-2020. Three sites were either consistently connected or disconnected to the river, while seven varied across time in their hydrologic connectivity strength. Of the sites with variable connectivity, some disconnected very quickly and others had a prolonged disconnection phase. By scaling site dynamics to the system scale, we found across-system hydrologic connectivity always increased with streamflow while across-system variance in hydrologic connectivity peaked at intermediate streamflow. At sites with intermittent connections to the river, river stage disconnection thresholds were variable (308 to 650 mm) and their connectivity dynamics were sensitive to inter-annual variation in streamflows, suggesting that future connectivity behavior under climate change will depend on how flow durations change across a range of flow states.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas, and oceanic sources account for up to one third of total flux to the atmosphere. In oxygen-deficient zones (ODZs) like the Eastern Tropical North Pacific (ETNP), N2O can be produced and consumed by several biological processes that are controlled by a variety of oceanographic conditions. In this study, the concentration and isotopocule ratios of N2O from a 2016 cruise to the ETNP were analyzed to examine heterogeneity in N2O cycling across the region. Along the north-south transect, three distinct biogeochemical regimes were identified: background, core-ODZ, and high-N2O stations. Background stations were characterized by less dynamic N2O cycling. Core-ODZ stations were characterized by co-occurring N2O production and consumption at anoxic depths, indicated by high δ18O (> 90‰) and low δ15Nβ (< -10‰) values, and confirmed by a time-dependent model, which indicated that N2O production via denitrification was significant and may occur with a non-zero site preference. High-N2O stations were defined by [N2O] reaching 126.07±12.6 nM, low oxygen concentrations expanding into near-surface isopycnals, and the presence of a mesoscale eddy. At these stations, model results indicated significant N2O production from ammonia-oxidizing archaea and denitrification from nitrate in the near-surface N2O maximum, while bacterial nitrification and denitrification from nitrite were insignificant. This study also represents the first in the ETNP to link N2O isotopocule measurements to a mesoscale eddy, suggesting the importance of eddies to the spatiotemporal variability in N2O cycling in this region.
Many theories exist to predict the growth of Microcystis, one major type of toxic cyanobacteria that form harmful algal blooms. However, the impacts of suspended particles, which are ubiquitous in freshwater, on Microcystis growth have not been fully understood. Here, we show that a smectite clay can inhibit the growth of Microcystis aeruginosa, a typical toxic freshwater cyanobacterium, through physical clay-cell interactions. We grow M. aeruginosa under identical growth conditions in three nutrient solutions: one pure solution, one with a synthetic and transparent clay, and another one chemically modified by clay but with clay particles removed. Cells in pure solution and chemically-modified solution grow equally well, while cells in solutions with the physical presence of clay do not grow nor produce pigments. Microscopic imaging of clay-cell interactions suggests that the inhibition of the growth of M. aeruginosa by clay is due to the physical encapsulation of cells in clay.
Since the famously inconclusive Viking missions, we have observed an increased desire to discover life outside the Earth. However, if we are to plan effective life-detection missions, then we must meet the challenge of classifying potential “agnostic” biosignatures (indicators of life or the absence of life). Agnostic refers to attempting to not use biosignatures that would bias towards Earth centric life standards, which would be “putting the answer in the question.” Machine learning techniques, specifically statistical classification already showed promising results in other fields. Applied to astrobiology, it may provide clarity on how different and independent measurements of the same biosignature affects your confidence in whether it is indicative of life. In this work, these algorithms were implemented to classify Raman spectra of potential biosignatures. Data was collected from public databases and individual research papers, processed, and then evaluated with several different algorithms. After thousands of simulations to allow the algorithms to test their classifications, we observed an 81% probability of correct classification when all the algorithms’ individual predictions were combined. These results demonstrate Raman spectroscopy’s potential for life-detection missions, and ability to improve upon a qualitative criterion for identifying indicative of life biosignatures.
Soil carbon is intimately related to the living part of the organic matter, as represented by the soil microbial biomass, which mediates the decomposition, mineralization, and immobilization of organic carbon available in soils under different land-use systems. Forest-to-agriculture conversion and land-use change often lead to a loss in microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and shifts in microbial activity, directly influencing the soil carbon dynamics. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of land-use change and geographical distribution on the microbial and environmental patterns related to soil C-dynamics. We evaluated MBC and microbial respiration in soils under five different land-use systems and two contrasting seasons, at a regional scale in Santa Catarina State, Southern Brazil. At the west mesoregion, changes in the MBC were correlated to sampling season in forest and grassland systems. Yet at the plateau mesoregion, we observed a land-use effect, as MBC decreased in no-till and crop-livestock integration systems. At the two mesoregions, forest and grassland had presented the highest values of MBC and microbial activity, as represented by microbial respiration. The grassland sites have presented lower values of the metabolic quotient (qCO2) and higher values of the microbial quotient (qMic). The qCO2 was lower in winter for all land-use systems. The forest sites have shown the highest total and particulate organic carbon values. The chemical-physical characteristics have shown correlations with microbiological variables related to the soil microbial C-dynamics. The land-use intensity, season, and geographic location were the main drivers of changes in microbial C-dynamics.
The transport of methane from deep sediments towards the seafloor is widespread in ocean margins and has important biogeochemical implications for the deep ocean . A significant portion (>80%) of methane entering the shallow sediments from below at present is oxidized by microbially-driven anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM), which mainly involves a microbial consortium of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) and sulfate-reducing bacteria. Isoprenoid Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) derived from core lipid membranes of ANMEs are often well preserved in sediment records. Methane Index (MI) is an organic geochemical proxy for methane seepage intensity which weighs in the relative proportion of GDGTs (GDGT-1,-2, and -3) preferentially synthesized by ANMEs with that of non-methane-related biomarker contribution from planktonic and benthic sources (Crenarchaeols) . This study analyzed the GDGT composition of sedimentary core lipids from IODP Site 1230 (Peru Margin) using two silica columns and a high-resolution and accurate mass Orbitrap Fusion Mass Spectrometer. Our results report novel GDGT isomers with concentration peaking at the Sulfate-Methane Transition Zones (SMTZ) with the highest AOM activity around 8 mbsf. Further, these isomers were almost absent above and below the SMTZ. Our observations suggest that these characteristic isomers of GDGT compounds preserved at the SMTZ depth are sourced from ANMEs. Identification of these novel isomers has important implications in refining the MI and additional GDGT based palaeoceanographic proxies like TEX86. 1. Akam et al. (2020), Frontiers in Marine Science 7, 206. 2. Y. G. Zhang et al. (2011), Earth and Planetary Science Letters 307, 525-534.
Excessive dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) added to the urban river systems by point-source inputs, such as untreated wastewater and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent, constitutes a water-quality problem of growing concern in China. However, very little is known about their impacts on DIN retention capacity and pathways in receiving waters. In this study, a spatially-intensive water quality monitoring campaign was conducted to support the application of the river water quality model WASP7.5 to the PS-impacted Nanfei River, China. The DIN retention capacities and pathway of a reference upstream Reach A, a wastewater-impacted Reach B and an effluent-dominated Reach C were quantified using the model results after a Bayesian approach for parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis. The results showed that the untreated wastewater discharge elevated the assimilatory uptake rate but lowered its efficiency in Reach B; while the WWTP effluent discharge elevated both denitrification rate and efficiency and made Reach C a denitrification hotspot with increased nitrate concentration and hypoxic environment. The effects of the point-source inputs on the DIN retention pathways (assimilatory uptake vs. denitrification) were regulated by their impacts on river metabolism. Despite different pathways, the total DIN retention ratios of Reaches A, B and C under low-flow conditions were 30.3% km-1, 14.3% km-1 and 6.5% km-1, respectively, which indicated the instream DIN retention capacities were significantly impaired by the point-source inputs. This result suggests that the DIN discharged from point-source inputs to urban rivers will be transported downstream with the potential to create long-term ecological implications not only locally but also regionally.
In both natural and built environments, microbes on occasions manifest in spherical aggregates instead of solid-affixed biofilms. These microbial aggregates are conventionally referred to as granules. Cryoconites are mineral rich granules that appear on glacier surfaces and are linked with expanding surface darkening, thus decreasing albedo, and enhanced melt. The oxygenic photogranules (OPGs) are organic rich granules that grow in wastewater with photosynthetic aeration and present potential for net autotrophic wastewater treatment in a compact system. Despite obvious differences inherent in the two, cryoconite and OPG pose striking resemblance. In both, the order Oscillatoriales in Cyanobacteria envelope inner materials and develop dense spheroidal aggregates. We explore the mechanism of photogranulation on account of high similarity between cryoconites and OPGs. We contend that there is no universal external cause for photogranulation. However, cryoconites and OPGs, as well as their intra variations, which are all are under different stress fields, are the outcome of universal physiological processes of the Oscillatoriales interfacing goldilocks interactions of stresses, which select for their manifestation as granules. Finding the rules of photogranulation may enhance engineering of glacier and wastewater systems to manipulate their ecosystem impacts.
Anaerobic microbial activity in the ocean causes losses of bioavailable nitrogen and emission of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere, but its predictability at global scales remains limited. Resource ratio theory suggests that anaerobic activity becomes sustainable when the ratio of oxygen to organic matter supply is below the ratio required by aerobic metabolisms. Here, we demonstrate the relevance of this framework at the global scale using three-dimensional ocean datasets, providing a new interpretation of existing observations. Evaluations of the location and extent of anoxic zones and a diagnostic rate of pelagic nitrogen loss are consistent with previous estimates. However, we demonstrate that the flux-based threshold is qualitatively different from a threshold based solely on the ambient oxygen concentration. Since the framework is feasible for application in global biogeochemical models, it represents a way forward for more dynamic, mechanistic predictions of anaerobic activity and nitrogen loss.
Deinococcus radiodurans has been reported to show remarkable resistance to ionizing radiation, desiccation, oxidizing compounds, UV radiation and mutagens. Since the 1960s, several exposure tests on diverse bacteria in space have been conducted to study the possibility of interplanetary life transfer and this bacterium pertains to a distinct gram-negative eubacterial lineage that is considered to be most closely related to the genus Thermus. The chemical reaction of D. radiodurans after exposure to space-related radiation and vacuum was studied in the concerned research that extends the application of the Tanpopo mission conducted by Japan. Certain tests like Scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that irradiated cell shape and cellular integrity were unaffected, whereas combined proteome and metabolomic research revealed significant molecular modifications in metabolic and stress response pathways. Taking this into account reinforced with simulation studies, we propose fabrication of a wearable radiation-shielding bio-spacesuit to protect the astronauts and prevent the onset of acute radiation damage. The main focus of this study is on the idea of incorporating the organism's composition mechanisms either into the five layers of mylar or aerogel of spacesuit in order to prevent damaging radiation in space.
Abiotic and biotic releases of nitrous acid (HONO) from soils contribute substantially to the missing source of tropospheric HONO and hydroxyl radicals (OH). However, global and regional patterns of soil HONO emissions are rarely quantified, and the contributions of such emissions to atmospheric oxidization capacity are unclear. Here, we present that the best estimate of global soil HONO emissions in 2017 is 9.67 with a range of 7.36-11.99 Tg N yr⁻1, where cropland soils accounted for ~ 79%. The analyses also indicate that regional soil HONO emissions enhanced ground OH concentrations by 10-60% and ozone concentrations by 0.5-1.5 ppb at daytime in the ambient area of Shanghai, China. The impact of soil HONO emissions on OH budgets were more important in rural than urban areas. These findings suggest that the global soil HONO emissions, especially from cropland, could quicken photochemical reactions and aggravate air pollution in rural areas.
The complexity of organic matter (OM) degradation mechanisms represents a significant challenge for developing biogeochemical models to quantify the role of aquatic sediments in the climate system. The common representation of OM by carbohydrates formulated as CHO in models comes with the assumption that its degradation by fermentation produces equimolar amounts of methane (CH) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). To test the validity of this assumption, we modeled using reaction-transport equations vertical profiles of the concentration and isotopic composition (δC) of CH and DIC in the top 25 cm of the sediment column from two lake basins, one whose hypolimnion is perennially oxygenated and one with seasonal anoxia. Our results reveal that methanogenesis only occurs via hydrogenotrophy in both basins. Furthermore, we calculate, from CH and DIC production rates associated with methanogenesis, that the fermenting OM has an average carbon oxidation state (COS) below −0.9. Modeling solute porewater profiles reported in the literature for four other seasonally anoxic lake basins also yields negative COS values. Collectively, the mean (±SD) COS value of −1.4 ± 0.3 for all the seasonally anoxic sites is much lower than the value of zero expected from carbohydrates fermentation. We conclude that carbohydrates do not adequately represent the fermenting OM and that the COS should be included in the formulation of OM fermentation in models applied to lake sediments. This study highlights the need to better characterize the labile OM undergoing mineralization to interpret present-day greenhouse gases cycling and predict its alteration under environmental changes.
Reducing nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agriculture is critical to limiting future global warming. In response, a growing number of food retailers and manufacturers have committed to reducing N2O emissions from their vast networks of farmer suppliers by providing technical assistance and financial incentives. A key challenge for such companies is demonstrating that their efforts are leading to meaningful progress towards their climate mitigation commitments. We show that a simplified version of soil surface nitrogen (N) balance, the difference between N inputs to and outputs from a farm field (e.g., fertilizer N minus crop N), is a robust indicator of N2O emissions. Furthermore, we present a generalized environmental model which will allow food-supply-chain companies to translate aggregated and anonymized changes in average N balance across their supplying farms into aggregated changes in N2O emissions. This research is an important first step, based on currently available science, in helping companies demonstrate the impact of their sustainability efforts.
The Yeongsan River in southwestern Korea is 150 km long and has a basin area of 3,551 km2. A number of hydraulic structures have been installed along the river, including an estuary dam and two weirs (Seungchon and Juksan). While these structures aid in regional water security and reduced flooding, they stagnate water flow and frequently cause algal blooms during the summer. This study simulated the algal bloom and water quality characteristics in the middle and downstream sections of the Yeongsan River under different weir and estuary dam operating conditions using the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code-National Institute of Environment Research (EFDC-NIER) model. Results showed that when the management levels of the Juksan Weir and estuary dam were maintained, the simulated water levels were 3.7 and -1.2 m in the Juksan Weir and estuary dam sections, respectively. When both the Juksan Weir and estuary dam were open, the water levels varied with the tide and were maintained at an average of 0.2-0.6 m in contrast, when the Juksan Weir alone was open, the water level was between -1.2 and -0.9 m in line with the management level of the estuary dam. Opening the Juksan Weir alone reduced the algal blooms by 72-84% in the Juksan Weir section, and opening the estuary dam alone reduced the algal blooms by 83% in the estuary dam. This improvement was attributed to the reduced water retention time and dilution due to seawater inflows.
Soil carbon sequestration has gained traction as a mean to mitigate rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Verification of different methods’ efficiency to increase soil carbon sink requires, in addition to good quality measurements, reliable models capable of simulating the effect of the sequestration practises. One way to get insight of the methods’ effects on carbon cycling processes is to analyse different carbon isotope concentrations in soil organic matter. In this paper we introduce a carbon-13 isotope specific soil organic matter decomposition add-on into the Yasso soil carbon model and assess its functionality. The new 13C-dedicated decomposition is straightforward to implement and depends linearly on the default Yasso model parameters and the relative carbon isotope (13C/12C) concentration. Despite of their simplicity, the modifications considerably improve the model behaviour in a 50-year long simulation.
Nutrient pollution is considered one of America’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems. Artificial Floating Islands (AFIs), a phytoremediation technology, has been proven as an efficient, environmental-friendly, and cost-effective strategy to address this issue. However, most previous studies of AFIs were done in controlled conditions at mesocosm experiments. In addition, limited information exists on the use of AFIs as a nutrient remediation/prevention strategy in Ohio. This study aims to fill these gaps. We are currently undertaking a combination of mesocosm and natural experiment to assess the nutrient-removal efficiency of AFI systems in the Milliron Research Wetlands (at the Ohio State University Mansfield campus), and establish a performance baseline for two native aquatic plant species, Carex comosa and Eleocharis palustris. In this study, 18 AFIs, 6 planted with Carex comosa, 6 with Eleocharis palustris, and 6 have no plants, were deployed in a section of the Milliron Research Wetlands. Physical and chemical parameters are being monitored bi-weekly. The AFI systems are constructed using PVC pipes to provide buoyance, EVA foam mats as platforms, and nylon nets to cover the system. Each AFI unit has nine luffa sponges, inserted in the foam mat, to hold aquatic plant seedlings, keep the moisture of roots, and enlarge the surface area for bacterial biofilm development. Since nutrient removal from the wetland is affected by numerous natural processes, a mesocosm experiment was set up to assist the quantification of nutrient removal due specifically to the presence of AFIs. The mesocosm experiment mimics the natural experiment at the wetland and contain 12 equal-size tanks containing water pumped directly from the wetland, 3 of which have AFIs with Carex comosa, 3 have Eleocharis palustris, 3 have no plants, and 3 contain just water from the wetland. Physical and chemical measurements (as well as sample collections) are performed weekly in the tanks. Water in the tanks are exchanged bi-weekly. Preliminary results show that the AFI systems quickly developed large root systems and extensive bacterial biofilms. The effects of the associations between plant biomass, biofilm development, and changing chemical and physical conditions will be investigated as the experiment progresses.
Searching for life on other planets and planetary bodies poses a number of challenges, especially given that there is currently no clear evidence that lifeforms can only conform to characteristics observed on Earth. While current astrobiology missions operate under the assumption that any astrobiological entities of interest will have similar properties to organisms on Earth (‘canonical’ lifeforms), the current convention of searching for direct evidence of such lifeforms (e.g. organic compounds, genetic material, etc.) is largely exclusionary to any biologically valid lifeforms which are not currently a part of the canonical model of life that is used to drive exploratory efforts. It is proposed that the definition of life be broadened to include any entities capable of maintaining homeostasis relative to an entropic environment. Thus, instead of the traditional strategy of searching for direct evidence of life conforming to Earth-based standards, i.e., looking for specific organic compounds, a new strategy could be used to indirectly identify lifeforms through their utilization of environmental resources (e.g. as energy sources).