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Minor impact of ocean acidification to the composition of the active microbial community in an Arctic sediment

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Summary

Effects of ocean acidification on the composition of the active bacterial and archaeal community within Arctic surface sediment was analysed in detail using 16S rRNA 454 pyrosequencing. Intact sediment cores were collected and exposed to one of five different pCO2 concentrations [380 (present day), 540, 750, 1120 and 3000 μatm] and RNA extracted after a period of 14 days exposure. Measurements of diversity and multivariate similarity indicated very little difference between pCO2 treatments. Only when the highest and lowest pCO2 treatments were compared were significant differences evident, namely increases in the abundance of operational taxonomic units most closely related to the Halobacteria and differences to the presence/absence structure of the Planctomycetes. The relative abundance of members of the classes Planctomycetacia and Nitrospira increased with increasing pCO2 concentration, indicating that these groups may be able to take advantage of changing pH or pCO2 conditions. The modest response of the active microbial communities associated with these sediments may be due to the low and fluctuating pore-water pH already experienced by sediment microbes, a result of the pH buffering capacity of marine sediments, or due to currently unknown factors. Further research is required to fully understand the impact of elevated CO2 on sediment physicochemical parameters, biogeochemistry and microbial community dynamics.

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