Microbial network, phylogenetic diversity and community membership in the active layer across a permafrost thaw gradient

Rhiannon Mondav, Carmody K. McCalley, Suzanne B. Hodgkins, Steve Frolking, Scott R. Saleska, Virginia I Rich, Jeff P. Chanton, Patrick M. Crill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biogenic production and release of methane (CH4) from thawing permafrost has the potential to be a strong source of radiative forcing. We investigated changes in the active layer microbial community of three sites representative of distinct permafrost thaw stages at a palsa mire in northern Sweden. The palsa sites with intact permafrost, and low radiative forcing signature had a phylogenetically clustered community dominated by Acidobacteria and Proteobacteria. The bog with thawing permafrost and low radiative forcing signature was dominated by hydrogenotrophic methanogens and Acidobacteria, had lower alpha diversity, and midrange phylogenetic clustering, characteristic of ecosystem disturbance affecting habitat filtering, shifting from palsa-like to fen-like at the waterline. The fen had no underlying permafrost, and the highest alpha, beta and phylogenetic diversity, was dominated by Proteobacteria and Euryarchaeota, and was significantly enriched in methanogens. The mire microbial network was modular with module cores consisting of clusters of Acidobacteria, Euryarchaeota, or Xanthomonodales. Loss of underlying permafrost with associated hydrological shifts correlated to changes in microbial composition, alpha, beta, and phylogenetic diversity associated with a higher radiative forcing signature. These results support the complex role of microbial interactions in mediating carbon budget changes and climate feedback in response to climate forcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 29 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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