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Selected Macrophyte Populations Promotes Coupled Nitrification and Denitrification Function in Eutrophic Urban Wetland Ecosystem

Authors: Rupak Kumar Sarma, Ratul Saikia

Abstract:

Macrophytes encompass major functional group in eutrophic wetland ecosystems. As a key functional element of freshwater lakes, they play a crucial role in regulating various wetland biogeochemical cycles, as well as maintain the biodiversity at the ecosystem level. The high carbon-rich underground biomass of macrophyte populations may harbour diverse microbial community having significant potential in maintaining different biogeochemical cycles. The present investigation was designed to study the macrophyte-microbe interaction in coupled nitrification and denitrification, considering Deepor Beel Lake (a Ramsar conservation site) of North East India as a model eutrophic system. Highly eutrophic sites of Deepor Beel were selected based on sediment oxygen demand and inorganic phosphorus and nitrogen (P&N) concentration. Sediment redox potential and depth of the lake was chosen as the benchmark for collecting the plant and sediment samples. The average highest depth in winter (January 2016) and summer (July 2016) were recorded as 20ft (6.096m) and 35ft (10.668m) respectively. Both sampling depth and sampling seasons had the distinct effect on variation in macrophyte community composition. Overall, the dominant macrophytic populations in the lake were Nymphaea alba, Hydrilla verticillata, Utricularia flexuosa, Vallisneria spiralis, Najas indica, Monochoria hastaefolia, Trapa bispinosa, Ipomea fistulosa, Hygrorhiza aristata, Polygonum hydropiper, Eichhornia crassipes and Euryale ferox. There was a distinct correlation in the variation of major sediment physicochemical parameters with change in macrophyte community compositions. Quantitative estimation revealed an almost even accumulation of nitrate and nitrite in the sediment samples dominated by the plant species Eichhornia crassipes, Nymphaea alba, Hydrilla verticillata, Vallisneria spiralis, Euryale ferox and Monochoria hastaefolia, which might have signified a stable nitrification and denitrification process in the sites dominated by the selected aquatic plants. This was further examined by a systematic analysis of microbial populations through culture dependent and independent approach. Culture-dependent bacterial community study revealed the higher population of nitrifiers and denitrifiers in the sediment samples dominated by the six macrophyte species. However, culture-independent study with bacterial 16S rDNA V3-V4 metagenome sequencing revealed the overall similar type of bacterial phylum in all the sediment samples collected during the study. Thus, there might be the possibility of uneven distribution of nitrifying and denitrifying molecular markers among the sediment samples collected during the investigation. The diversity and abundance of the nitrifying and denitrifying molecular markers in the sediment samples are under investigation. Thus, the role of different aquatic plant functional types in microorganism mediated nitrogen cycle coupling could be screened out further from the present initial investigation.

Keywords: Denitrification, Microorganism, Nitrification, macrophyte, metagenome

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