PhD Student, Australian Riversi Institute
DOM phytotoxicity based on its plant source, age, and sunlight exposure.
Catchment vegetation improve water quality by stabilising the banks of waterways and reduce nutrient loads. An unknown role that these plants play is on their chemical contribution to the water, is the formed of leached dissolved organic matter. The effects of dissolved organic matter on microbes in the waterways is variable. Depending upon its chemical composition, dissolved organic matter may be a source of carbon used for energy, or nitrogen used for nutrition. Alternatively, dissolved organic matter may be toxic. This project aims to understand how many species and environmental conditions effect dissolved organic matter chemical composition, and toxicity.
Abstract: Agricultural activities in catchments can cause excessive nutrient loads in waterways. Catchment nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) flows may be intercepted and assimilated by riparian vegetation. While prior studies suggest that woody vegetation is preferable for reducing P loads, the question remains: is woody vegetation or grass cover more effective at reducing catchment N and P exports to waterways. To address this we investigated the relative importance of vegetation type, hydrologic and soil microbial processes on N and P losses from soil to a stream. The study involved the analysis of data from two soil microcosm experiments, and a field case study. We found P leaching loss from riparian zones depended significantly on vegetation type (woody vs. grass cover), with lower P exported from wooded riparian zones, irrespective of the scale of rainfall. For N leaching losses, the scale of rainfall had an effect. During high rainfall, vegetation type had a major effect on N leaching loss, with lower N exported from grassed verses wooded riparian zones. However, under low rainfall conditions, soil type and soil C and N stores, potential indicators of soil microbial activity, rather than vegetation cover, affected N leaching. It is hypothesized that soil microbes were reducing N removal under these conditions. We reason that nitrifiers may have played an important role in soil N cycling, as increased soil ammonium had a strong positive effect on nitrate leaching loads, mediated through soil nitrate stores. Whereas, N immobilization, via incorporation into microbial biomass, and denitrification processes appeared to be limited by C availability, with increased C associated with reduced N leaching. Overall, this study identified that N leaching losses from riparian zones appeared to be affected by two different processes, vegetative uptake and soil microbial processes, the relative importance of which was driven by hydrological conditions.
Pub.: 26 Apr '17, Pinned: 28 Jul '17
Abstract: Here we link plant source phylogeny to its chemical characteristics and determine parameters useful for predicting DOM phytotoxicity towards algal monocultures. We found that DOM characterised using UV-visible spectroscopic indices and elemental analysis is useful for distinguishing DOM plant sources. Specifically, combined values of absorbance at 440 nm and coefficients for the spectral slope ratio, were used to distinguish between gymnosperm-leached DOM and that from angiosperms. In our bioassays, DOM leached from 4 g leaf L(-1) resulted in over 40% inhibition of photosynthetic yield for the cyanobacterium, Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, for eight of the nine plants tested. Significant variables for predicting inhibition of yield were DOM exposure time and plant source, or using an alternate model, exposure time and spectroscopic and elemental measures. Our study proposes spectroscopic indices which can estimate a plant source's contribution to aquatic DOM, may provide insights into ecological outcomes, such as phytotoxicity to algae. The cyanobacterium (C. raciborskii) was more sensitive to DOM than a green algae (Monoraphidium spp.), as identified in a subsequent dose-response experiment with five different DOM plant sources. Low level additions of angiosperm derived-DOM (i.e. 0.5 g L(-1)) were slight phytotoxic to Monoraphidium spp. causing 30% inhibition of yield, while C. raciborskii was not affected. Higher DOM additions (i.e. 2 g L(-1)) caused 100% inhibition of yield for C. raciborskii, while Monoraphidium spp. inhibition remained under 30%. The divergence in algal sensitivity to DOM indicates that in aquatic systems, DOM derived from catchment vegetation has the potential to affect algal assemblages.
Pub.: 29 Jun '17, Pinned: 28 Jul '17
Abstract: Green algae and cyanobacteria are primary producers with profound impact on food web functioning. Both represent key carbon sources and sinks in the aquatic environment, helping modulate the dissolved organic matter balance and representing a potential biofuel source. Underlying the impact of algae and cyanobacteria on an ecosystem level is their molecular composition. Herein, intact (13)C-labelled whole cell suspensions of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Chlorella vulgaris and Synechocystis were studied using a variety of 1D and 2D (1)H/(13)C solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic experiments. Solution-state NMR spectroscopy of whole cell suspensions is particularly relevant as it identifies species that are mobile (dissolved or dynamic gels), 'aquatically available' and directly contribute to the aquatic carbon pool upon lysis, death or become a readily available food source on consumption. In this study, a wide range of metabolites and structural components were identified within the whole cell suspensions. In addition, significant differences in the lipid/triacylglyceride (TAG) content of green algae and cyanobacteria were confirmed. Mobile species in algae are quite different from those in abundance in 'classic' dissolved organic matter (DOM) indicating that if algae are major contributors to DOM, considerable selective preservation of minor components (e.g. sterols) or biotransformation would have to occur. Identifying the metabolites and dissolved components within algal cells by NMR permits future studies of carbon transfer between species and through the food chain, whilst providing a foundation to better understand the role of algae in the formation of DOM and the sequestration/transformation of carbon in aquatic environments.
Pub.: 15 Apr '16, Pinned: 28 Jul '17