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  1. Giovannoni, Stephen J. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Microbial nitrification is a critical process governing nitrogen availability in aquatic systems. Freshwater nitrifiers have received little attention, leaving many unanswered questions about their taxonomic distribution, functional potential, and ecological interactions. Here, we reconstructed genomes to infer the metabolism and ecology of free-living picoplanktonic nitrifiers across the Laurentian Great Lakes, a connected series of five of Earth’s largest lakes. Surprisingly, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) related to Nitrosospira dominated over ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) at nearly all stations, with distinct ecotypes prevailing in the transparent, oligotrophic upper lakes compared to Lakes Erie and Ontario. Unexpectedly, one ecotype of Nitrosospira encodes proteorhodopsin, which could enhance survival under conditions where ammonia oxidation is inhibited or substrate limited. Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) “ Candidatus Nitrotoga” and Nitrospira fluctuated in dominance, with the latter prevailing in deeper, less-productive basins. Genome reconstructions reveal highly reduced genomes and features consistent with genome streamlining, along with diverse adaptations to sunlight and oxidative stress and widespread capacity for organic nitrogen use. Our findings expand the known functional diversity of nitrifiers and establish their ecological genomics in large lake ecosystems. By elucidating links between microbial biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling, our work also informs ecosystem models of the Laurentian Great Lakes, a criticalmore »freshwater resource experiencing rapid environmental change. IMPORTANCE Microorganisms play critical roles in Earth’s nitrogen cycle. In lakes, microorganisms called nitrifiers derive energy from reduced nitrogen compounds. In doing so, they transform nitrogen into a form that can ultimately be lost to the atmosphere by a process called denitrification, which helps mitigate nitrogen pollution from fertilizer runoff and sewage. Despite their importance, freshwater nitrifiers are virtually unexplored. To understand their diversity and function, we reconstructed genomes of freshwater nitrifiers across some of Earth’s largest freshwater lakes, the Laurentian Great Lakes. We discovered several new species of nitrifiers specialized for clear low-nutrient waters and distinct species in comparatively turbid Lake Erie. Surprisingly, one species may be able to harness light energy by using a protein called proteorhodopsin, despite the fact that nitrifiers typically live in deep dark water. Our work reveals the unique biodiversity of the Great Lakes and fills key gaps in our knowledge of an important microbial group, the nitrifiers.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 28, 2023
  2. Antimicrobial resistance is a well-documented public health concern. The role that drinking water distribution pipes have as sources of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) is not well known. Metals are a known stressor for antibiotic resistance development, implying that aging metal-pipe infrastructure could be a source of ARGs. The objective of this study was to determine if ARGs, metal resistance genes (MRGs), and intI 1 were pervasive across various pipe biofilm sample types (biomass surfaces, pipe surfaces, corrosion tubercles, and under corrosion tubercles) and if the resistance genes associated with particular microbial taxa. Eight sample types in triplicate ( n = 24) were taken from inside a >100 year-old, six ft. section of a full-scale chloraminated cast iron drinking water main. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) was employed as a novel approach to quantify ARGs in pipes from full-scale drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) because it yielded higher detection frequencies than quantitative PCR (qPCR). Illumina sequencing was employed to characterize the microbial community based on 16S rRNA genes. ARGs and MRGs were detected in all 24 pipe samples. Every sample contained targeted genes. Interestingly, the mean absolute abundances of ARGs and MRGs only varied by approximately one log value across sample types,more »but the mean relative abundances (copy numbers normalized to 16S rRNA genes) varied by over two log values. The ARG and MRGs concentrations were not significantly different between sample types, despite significant changes in dominant microbial taxa. The most abundant genera observed in the biofilm communities were Mycobacterium (0.2–70%), and β-lactam resistance genes bla TEM , bla SHV , and the integrase gene of class 1 integrons ( intI 1) were positively correlated with Mycobacterium . The detection of ARGs, MRGs, and class 1 integrons across all sample types within the pipe indicates that pipes themselves can serve as sources for ARGs in DWDS. Consequently, future work should investigate the role of pipe materials as well as corrosion inhibitors to determine how engineering decisions can mitigate ARGs in drinking water that stem from pipe materials.« less