Hydrologic exchange plays a critical role in biogeochemical cycling within the hyporheic zone (the interface between river water and groundwater) of riverine ecosystems. Such exchange may set limits on the rates of microbial metabolism and impose deterministic selection on microbial communities that adapt to dynamically changing dissolved organic carbon (DOC) sources. This study examined the response of attached microbial communities (in situ colonized sand packs) from groundwater, hyporheic, and riverbed habitats within the Columbia River hyporheic corridor to “cross-feeding’ with either groundwater, river water, or DOC-free artificial fluids. Our working hypothesis was that deterministic selection during in situ colonization would dictate the response to cross-feeding, with communities displaying maximal biomass and respiration when supplied with their native fluid source. In contrast to expectations, the major observation was that the riverbed colonized sand had much higher biomass and respiratory activity, as well as a distinct community structure, compared with those of the hyporheic and groundwater colonized sands. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing revealed a much higher proportion of certain heterotrophic taxa as well as significant numbers of eukaryotic algal chloroplasts in the riverbed colonized sand. Significant quantities of DOC were released from riverbed sediment and colonized sand, and separate experiments showed that the released DOC stimulated respiration in the groundwater and piezometer colonized sand. These results suggest that the accumulation and degradation of labile particulate organic carbon (POC) within the riverbed are likely to release DOC, which may enter the hyporheic corridor during hydrologic exchange, thereby stimulating microbial activity and imposing deterministic selective pressure on the microbial community composition.
Stern, Noah et al. “Colonization Habitat Controls Biomass, Composition, and Metabolic Activity of Attached Microbial Communities in the Columbia River Hyporheic Corridor.’ Ed. Joel E. Kostka. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83.16 (2017): e00260—17. PMC. Web. 8 Feb. 2018.
This paper shows an intriguing concept on riverine microbial community composition and the effects that their biogeochemical cycling processes have on the freshwater environment.