Following the flow – microbial ecology in surface- and groundwaters in the glacial forefield of a rapidly retreating glacier in Iceland
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The retreat of glaciers in response to climate change has major impacts on the hydrology and ecosystems of glacier forefield catchments. Microbes are key players in ecosystem functionality, supporting the supply of ecosystem services that glacier systems provide. The interaction between surface and groundwaters in glacier forefields has only recently gained much attention, and how these interactions influence the microbiology is still unclear. Here, we identify the microbial communities in groundwater from shallow (<15m deep) boreholes in a glacial forefield floodplain (‘sandur’) aquifer at different distances from the rapidly retreating Virkisjökull glacier, Iceland, and with varying hydraulic connectivity with the glacial meltwater river that flows over the sandur. Groundwater communities are shown to differ from those in nearby glacial and non-glacial surface water communities. Groundwater-meltwater interactions and groundwater flow dynamics affect the microbial community structure, leading to different microbial communities at different sampling points in the glacier forefield. Groundwater communities differ from those in nearby glacial and non-glacial surface waters. Functional potential for microbial nitrogen and methane cycling was detected, although the functional gene copy numbers of specific groups were low.
Purkamo , L , Dochartaigh , B Ó , MacDonald , A & Cousins , C 2022 , ' Following the flow – microbial ecology in surface- and groundwaters in the glacial forefield of a rapidly retreating glacier in Iceland ' , Environmental Microbiology , vol. Early View . https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.16104
Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
DescriptionTravel and fieldwork in Iceland for Lotta Purkamo was funded by Sohlberg fund of The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. Sequencing was funded by The Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2016-153 to Claire Cousins). BGS research at Virkisjökull was funded by the BGS-NERC Earth Hazards and Observatories Directorate, and VatnajökulsÞjóðgarður provided permission to install monitoring equipment.
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