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  1. Abstract Background

    Winter carbon loss in northern ecosystems is estimated to be greater than the average growing season carbon uptake and is primarily driven by microbial decomposers. Viruses modulate microbial carbon cycling via induced mortality and metabolic controls, but it is unknown whether viruses are active under winter conditions (anoxic and sub-freezing temperatures).


    We used stable isotope probing (SIP) targeted metagenomics to reveal the genomic potential of active soil microbial populations under simulated winter conditions, with an emphasis on viruses and virus-host dynamics. Arctic peat soils from the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site in Alaska were incubated under sub-freezing anoxic conditions with H218O or natural abundance water for 184 and 370 days. We sequenced 23 SIP-metagenomes and measured carbon dioxide (CO2) efflux throughout the experiment. We identified 46 bacterial populations (spanning 9 phyla) and 243 viral populations that actively took up18O in soil and respired CO2throughout the incubation. Active bacterial populations represented only a small portion of the detected microbial community and were capable of fermentation and organic matter degradation. In contrast, active viral populations represented a large portion of the detected viral community and one third were linked to active bacterial populations. We identified 86 auxiliary metabolic genes and other environmentallymore »relevant genes. The majority of these genes were carried by active viral populations and had diverse functions such as carbon utilization and scavenging that could provide their host with a fitness advantage for utilizing much-needed carbon sources or acquiring essential nutrients.


    Overall, there was a stark difference in the identity and function of the active bacterial and viral community compared to the unlabeled community that would have been overlooked with a non-targeted standard metagenomic analysis. Our results illustrate that substantial active virus-host interactions occur in sub-freezing anoxic conditions and highlight viruses as a major community-structuring agent that likely modulates carbon loss in peat soils during winter, which may be pivotal for understanding the future fate of arctic soils' vast carbon stocks.

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  2. Abstract

    Indirect climate effects on tree fecundity that come through variation in size and growth (climate-condition interactions) are not currently part of models used to predict future forests. Trends in species abundances predicted from meta-analyses and species distribution models will be misleading if they depend on the conditions of individuals. Here we find from a synthesis of tree species in North America that climate-condition interactions dominate responses through two pathways, i) effects of growth that depend on climate, and ii) effects of climate that depend on tree size. Because tree fecundity first increases and then declines with size, climate change that stimulates growth promotes a shift of small trees to more fecund sizes, but the opposite can be true for large sizes. Change the depresses growth also affects fecundity. We find a biogeographic divide, with these interactions reducing fecundity in the West and increasing it in the East. Continental-scale responses of these forests are thus driven largely by indirect effects, recommending management for climate change that considers multiple demographic rates.

  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. Abstract Background Mosses in high-latitude ecosystems harbor diverse bacterial taxa, including N 2 -fixers which are key contributors to nitrogen dynamics in these systems. Yet the relative importance of moss host species, and environmental factors, in structuring these microbial communities and their N 2 -fixing potential remains unclear. We studied 26 boreal and tundra moss species across 24 sites in Alaska, USA, from 61 to 69° N. We used cultivation-independent approaches to characterize the variation in moss-associated bacterial communities as a function of host species identity and site characteristics. We also measured N 2 -fixation rates via 15 N 2 isotopic enrichment and identified potential N 2 -fixing bacteria using available literature and genomic information. Results Host species identity and host evolutionary history were both highly predictive of moss microbiome composition, highlighting strong phylogenetic coherence in these microbial communities. Although less important, light availability and temperature also influenced composition of the moss microbiome. Finally, we identified putative N 2 -fixing bacteria specific to some moss hosts, including potential N 2 -fixing bacteria outside well-studied cyanobacterial clades. Conclusions The strong effect of host identity on moss-associated bacterial communities demonstrates mosses’ utility for understanding plant-microbe interactions in non-leguminous systems. Our work alsomore »highlights the likely importance of novel bacterial taxa to N 2 -fixation in high-latitude ecosystems.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  6. Abstract The complexity of forest structures plays a crucial role in regulating forest ecosystem functions and strongly influences biodiversity. Yet, knowledge of the global patterns and determinants of forest structural complexity remains scarce. Using a stand structural complexity index based on terrestrial laser scanning, we quantify the structural complexity of boreal, temperate, subtropical and tropical primary forests. We find that the global variation of forest structural complexity is largely explained by annual precipitation and precipitation seasonality (R² = 0.89). Using the structural complexity of primary forests as benchmark, we model the potential structural complexity across biomes and present a global map of the potential structural complexity of the earth´s forest ecoregions. Our analyses reveal distinct latitudinal patterns of forest structure and show that hotspots of high structural complexity coincide with hotspots of plant diversity. Considering the mechanistic underpinnings of forest structural complexity, our results suggest spatially contrasting changes of forest structure with climate change within and across biomes.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. Abstract Wetland methane (CH 4 ) emissions ( $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 ) are important in global carbon budgets and climate change assessments. Currently, $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 projections rely on prescribed static temperature sensitivity that varies among biogeochemical models. Meta-analyses have proposed a consistent $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 temperature dependence across spatial scales for use in models; however, site-level studies demonstrate that $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 are often controlled by factors beyond temperature. Here, we evaluate the relationship between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature using observations from the FLUXNET-CH 4 database. Measurements collected across the globe show substantial seasonal hysteresis between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature, suggesting larger $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 sensitivity to temperature later in the frost-free season (about 77% of site-years). Results derived from a machine-learning model and several regression models highlight the importance of representing the large spatial and temporal variability within site-years and ecosystem types. Mechanistic advancements in biogeochemical model parameterization and detailed measurements in factors modulating CH 4 production are thus needed to improve global CH 4 budget assessments.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  8. Abstract Rapid climate warming is altering Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystem structure and function, including shifts in plant phenology. While the advancement of green up and flowering are well-documented, it remains unclear whether all phenophases, particularly those later in the season, will shift in unison or respond divergently to warming. Here, we present the largest synthesis to our knowledge of experimental warming effects on tundra plant phenology from the International Tundra Experiment. We examine the effect of warming on a suite of season-wide plant phenophases. Results challenge the expectation that all phenophases will advance in unison to warming. Instead, we find that experimental warming caused: (1) larger phenological shifts in reproductive versus vegetative phenophases and (2) advanced reproductive phenophases and green up but delayed leaf senescence which translated to a lengthening of the growing season by approximately 3%. Patterns were consistent across sites, plant species and over time. The advancement of reproductive seasons and lengthening of growing seasons may have significant consequences for trophic interactions and ecosystem function across the tundra.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022