Institut d'Ecologia Aquàtica

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Multi‐model assessment of hydrological and environmental impacts on streambed microbes in Mediterranean catchments
Microbes inhabiting intermittent streambeds

Microbes inhabiting intermittent streambeds are responsible for controlling and developing many biogeochemical processes essential for the ecosystem functions. Although streambed microbiota is adapted to intermittency the intensification of water scarcity and prolonged dry periods may jeopardise their capacity to cope with hydrological changes

This study aims to evaluate whether, and to what extent, the duration of dry periods affects streambed microbial density, diversity, composition (16S rRNA gene diversity) and functions (extracellular enzyme activities and respiration). Our results highlight the fact that hydrology modulates the community composition and, to some extent, the functions carried out under different environmental conditions. The relative abundance of certain taxa inhabiting the driest intermittent communities differs significantly from those found at sites with continuous flow. Microbial functional metrics revealed a progressive increase in recalcitrant carbon degradation activity at sites with an extended dry phase. In contrast, bacterial density and diversity were mainly influenced by the catchment land use, agriculture enhanced density but reduced diversity, and the presence of riparian vegetation supported greater streambed bacterial diversity. From this perspective, a combination of prolonged dryness with reduced riparian vegetation and increased agricultural land cover could compromise the ecosystem functioning by threaten microbially mediated processes linked to the carbon cycle.

Gionchetta G., Artigas J., Arias-Real R., Oliva F. & Romaní A.M. 2020. Multimodel assessment of hydrological and environmental impacts on streambed microbes in Mediterranean catchments. Environmental Microbiology: in press.