Anthropogenic effects of urban density have altered natural ecosystems. Such changes include eutrophication of freshwater and adjoining coastal habitats, and increased levels of inorganic nutrients and pollutants into waterways. In Australia, these changes are intensified by large-scale ocean-atmospheric events, leading to considerable abiotic stress on the natural flora and fauna. Bacterial communities in marine sediments from Moreton Bay (South East Queensland, Australia) were examined in order to assess the impact of rainfall changes, chemical pollution, and subsequent abiotic stress on living organisms within a marine ecosystem. Sediments were collected during the wet and dry seasons and analyzed using bacterial metagenomics and community metabolomics techniques. Physicochemical data were also analyzed to account for biological variance that may be due to non-rainfall-based abiotic stresses. Wet-dry seasonality was the dominant control on bacterial community structure and metabolic function. Changes in the availability of nutrients, organic matter and light appeared to be the major seasonal stressors. In contrast, urban and industrial pollutants appeared to be minor stressors at the sites sampled. During the wet season, the bacterial community composition reflected organisms that utilize biogeochemical pathways with fast kinetics, such as aerobic metabolism, direct assimilation of inorganic compounds, and primary production. The transition to the dry season saw the bacterial community composition shift towards organisms that utilize more complex organic energy sources, such as carbohydrates and fatty acids, and anaerobic redox processes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is a federally funded research organization of the Australian Government, and the authors would like to acknowledge and thank the following CSIRO scientists and officers for their assistance in the collection and preparation of the marine samples used in this study: Mr Stephen Cook, Ms Kylie Smith, Mr Geoff Carlin, and Mr Gary Fry. Next-generation sequence data processing and analysis were performed using the resources of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.
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