Volume 21, Issue 1 p. 389-401
Research article

Using meta-omics of contaminated sediments to monitor changes in pathways relevant to climate regulation

Simone C. Birrer

Corresponding Author

Simone C. Birrer

Evolution and Ecology Research Centre is equivalent, School of BEES, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052 Australia

The Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, NSW, 2088 Australia

For correspondence. E-mail [email protected]; Tel. +61 (2) 9385 8701; Fax +61 (2) 9385 3327.Search for more papers by this author
Katherine A. Dafforn

Katherine A. Dafforn

Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, 2109 Australia

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Melanie Y. Sun

Melanie Y. Sun

Evolution and Ecology Research Centre is equivalent, School of BEES, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052 Australia

The Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, NSW, 2088 Australia

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Rohan B. H. Williams

Rohan B. H. Williams

Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 637551 Singapore

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Jaimie Potts

Jaimie Potts

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Lidcombe, NSW, 2141 Australia

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Peter Scanes

Peter Scanes

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Lidcombe, NSW, 2141 Australia

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Brendan P. Kelaher

Brendan P. Kelaher

National Marine Science Centre and Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450 Australia

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Stuart L. Simpson

Stuart L. Simpson

CSIRO Land and Water, Lucas Heights, NSW, 2234 Australia

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Staffan Kjelleberg

Staffan Kjelleberg

Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 637551 Singapore

Centre of Marine Bio-Innovation, School of BEES, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052 Australia

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Sanjay Swarup

Sanjay Swarup

Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 637551 Singapore

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Peter Steinberg

Peter Steinberg

Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, 2109 Australia

Centre of Marine Bio-Innovation, School of BEES, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052 Australia

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Emma L. Johnston

Emma L. Johnston

Evolution and Ecology Research Centre is equivalent, School of BEES, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052 Australia

The Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, NSW, 2088 Australia

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First published: 08 November 2018
Citations: 27

Summary

Microbially mediated biogeochemical processes are crucial for climate regulation and may be disrupted by anthropogenic contaminants. To better manage contaminants, we need tools that make real-time causal links between stressors and altered microbial functions, and the potential consequences for ecosystem services such as climate regulation. In a manipulative field experiment, we used metatranscriptomics to investigate the impact of excess organic enrichment and metal contamination on the gene expression of nitrogen and sulfur metabolisms in coastal sediments. Our gene expression data suggest that excess organic enrichment results in (i) higher transcript levels of genes involved in the production of toxic ammonia and hydrogen sulfide and (ii) lower transcript levels associated with the degradation of a greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide). However, metal contamination did not have any significant impact on gene expression. We reveal the genetic mechanisms that may lead to altered productivity and greenhouse gas production in coastal sediments due to anthropogenic contaminants. Our data highlight the applicability of metatranscriptomics as a management tool that provides an immense breadth of information and can identify potentially impacted process measurements that need further investigation.