OOS 21-9 - How can we manage microbial functions to restore ecosystem services in human-dominated landscapes?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 10:50 AM
Portland Blrm 255, Oregon Convention Center
Ariane L. Peralta, Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC and Mario E. Muscarella, Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

The link between human and natural systems is mediated through both ecosystem services and land use. However, in most engineered and restored ecosystems, the contribution of microbial community composition and activity are often ignored even those these organisms provide the desired ecosystem services. We hypothesize that a traits-based framework can provide a tractable way to integrate microbial community composition and function into land management practices and restorations. Our framework considers functional traits such as the physiological and morphological characteristics that influence organismal fitness and function under various environmental conditions. The functional traits underpin the ecosystem functions that we value as ecosystem services. However, because not all microorganisms respond to environmental conditions similarly, shifts in microbial communities can lead to changes in activity but environmentally induced changes in function may also occur without compositional changes. We take an interdisciplinary approach to examine the effects of carbon and nutrient inputs on microbial community structure and their role in driving nitrogen removal rates (i.e., denitrification).


A ‘black box’ microbial process approach does not account for the variation in microbial activity influenced by the microbial community adapted to a particular location within the built environment. In instances where constructed wetlands are implemented, there is enhanced denitrification rates in plant-dominated locations provides labile resources needed to sustain the desired ecosystem function. As microbial communities develop within built environments, identifying the degree to which phylogenetic conservation of traits associated with nitrogen removal function and associated greenhouse gas production will be critical for sustainable design and management of soil and water resources. Characterizing this unaccounted microbial variation can improve efforts to construct and effectively manage microbiomes for enhanced delivery of ecosystem services.