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Title: The Roles of Microbes in Stream Restorations
The goods and services provided by riverine systems are critical to humanity, and our reliance increases with our growing population and demands. As our activities expand, these systems continue to degrade throughout the world even as we try to restore them, and many efforts have not met expectations. One way to increase restoration effectiveness could be to explicitly design restorations to promote microbial communities, which are responsible for much of the organic matter breakdown, nutrient removal or transformation, pollutant removal, and biomass production in river ecosystems. In this paper, we discuss several design concepts that purposefully create conditions for these various microbial goods and services, and allow microbes to act as ecological restoration engineers. Focusing on microbial diversity and function could improve restoration effectiveness and overall ecosystem resilience to the stressors that caused the need for the restoration. Advances in next-generation sequencing now allow the use of microbial ‘omics techniques (e.g., metagenomics, metatranscriptomics) to assess stream ecological conditions in similar fashion to fish and benthic macroinvertebrates. Using representative microbial communities from stream sediments, biofilms, and the water column may greatly advance assessment capabilities. Microbes can assess restorations and ecosystem function where animals may not currently be present, and thus may serve as diagnostics for the suitability of animal reintroductions. Emerging applications such as ecological metatranscriptomics may further advance our understanding of the roles of specific restoration designs towards ecological services as well as assess restoration effectiveness.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1836768 1840243
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Microbial Ecology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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