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  1. Abstract

    Early evolution of mutualism is characterized by big and predictable adaptive changes, including the specialization of interacting partners, such as through deleterious mutations in genes not required for metabolic cross-feeding. We sought to investigate whether these early mutations improve cooperativity by manifesting in synergistic epistasis between genomes of the mutually interacting species. Specifically, we have characterized evolutionary trajectories of syntrophic interactions ofDesulfovibrio vulgaris(Dv) withMethanococcus maripaludis(Mm) by longitudinally monitoring mutations accumulated over 1000 generations of nine independently evolved communities with analysis of the genotypic structure of one community down to the single-cell level. We discovered extensive parallelism across communities despite considerable variance in their evolutionary trajectories and the perseverance within many evolution lines of a rare lineage ofDvthat retained sulfate-respiration (SR+) capability, which is not required for metabolic cross-feeding. An in-depth investigation revealed that synergistic epistasis across pairings ofDvandMmgenotypes had enhanced cooperativity within SR− and SR+ assemblages, enabling their coexistence within the same community. Thus, our findings demonstrate that cooperativity of a mutualism can improve through synergistic epistasis between genomes of the interacting species, enabling the coexistence of mutualistic assemblages of generalists and their specialized variants.

  2. Northern-latitude tundra soils harbor substantial carbon (C) stocks that are highly susceptible to microbial degradation with rising global temperatures. Understanding the magnitude and direction (e.g., C release or sequestration) of the microbial responses to warming is necessary to accurately model climate change. In this study, Alaskan tundra soils were subjected to experimental in situ warming by ∼1.1 °C above ambient temperature, and the microbial communities were evaluated using metagenomics after 4.5 years, at 2 depths: 15 to 25 cm (active layer at outset of the experiment) and 45 to 55 cm (transition zone at the permafrost/active layer boundary at the outset of the experiment). In contrast to small or insignificant shifts after 1.5 years of warming, 4.5 years of warming resulted in significant changes to the abundances of functional traits and the corresponding taxa relative to control plots (no warming), and microbial shifts differed qualitatively between the two soil depths. At 15 to 25 cm, increased abundances of carbohydrate utilization genes were observed that correlated with (increased) measured ecosystem carbon respiration. At the 45- to 55-cm layer, increased methanogenesis potential was observed, which corresponded with a 3-fold increase in abundance of a single archaeal clade of the Methanosarcinales order, increasedmore »annual thaw duration (45.3 vs. 79.3 days), and increased CH 4 emissions. Collectively, these data demonstrate that the microbial responses to warming in tundra soil are rapid and markedly different between the 2 critical soil layers evaluated, and identify potential biomarkers for the corresponding microbial processes that could be important in modeling.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Tundra ecosystems are typically carbon (C) rich but nitrogen (N) limited. Since biological N 2 fixation is the major source of biologically available N, the soil N 2 -fixing (i.e., diazotrophic) community serves as an essential N supplier to the tundra ecosystem. Recent climate warming has induced deeper permafrost thaw and adversely affected C sequestration, which is modulated by N availability. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the responses of diazotrophic communities to warming across the depths of tundra soils. Herein, we carried out one of the deepest sequencing efforts of nitrogenase gene ( nifH ) to investigate how 5 years of experimental winter warming affects Alaskan soil diazotrophic community composition and abundance spanning both the organic and mineral layers. Although soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming, warming significantly ( P <  0.05) enhanced diazotrophic abundance by 86.3% and aboveground plant biomass by 25.2%. Diazotrophic composition in the middle and lower organic layers, detected by nifH sequencing and a microarray-based tool (GeoChip), was markedly altered, with an increase of α-diversity. Changes in diazotrophic abundance and composition significantly correlated with soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass, as shown by structural equation modeling analyses. Therefore,more »more abundant diazotrophic communities induced by warming may potentially serve as an important mechanism for supplementing biologically available N in this tundra ecosystem. IMPORTANCE With the likelihood that changes in global climate will adversely affect the soil C reservoir in the northern circumpolar permafrost zone, an understanding of the potential role of diazotrophic communities in enhancing biological N 2 fixation, which constrains both plant production and microbial decomposition in tundra soils, is important in elucidating the responses of soil microbial communities to global climate change. A recent study showed that the composition of the diazotrophic community in a tundra soil exhibited no change under a short-term (1.5-year) winter warming experiment. However, it remains crucial to examine whether the lack of diazotrophic community responses to warming is persistent over a longer time period as a possibly important mechanism in stabilizing tundra soil C. Through a detailed characterization of the effects of winter warming on diazotrophic communities, we showed that a long-term (5-year) winter warming substantially enhanced diazotrophic abundance and altered community composition, though soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming. These changes were best explained by changes in soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass. These results provide crucial insights into the potential factors that may impact future C and N availability in tundra regions.« less
  4. Abstract

    Increases in carbon (C) inputs to soil can replenish soil organic C (SOC) through various mechanisms. However, recent studies have suggested that the increased C input can also stimulate the decomposition of old SOC via priming. Whether the loss of old SOC by priming can override C replenishment has not been rigorously examined. Here we show, through data–model synthesis, that the magnitude of replenishment is greater than that of priming, resulting in a net increase in SOC by a mean of 32% of the added new C. The magnitude of the net increase in SOC is positively correlated with the nitrogen-to-C ratio of the added substrates. Additionally, model evaluation indicates that a two-pool interactive model is a parsimonious model to represent the SOC decomposition with priming and replenishment. Our findings suggest that increasing C input to soils likely promote SOC accumulation despite the enhanced decomposition of old C via priming.