The understanding of ecosystem responses to changing environmental conditions is becoming increasingly relevant in the context of global warming. Microbial biofilm communities in streams play a key role in organic matter cycling which might be modulated by shifts in flowing water temperature. In this study, we performed an experiment at the Candal stream (Portugal) longitudinally divided into two reaches: a control half and an experimental half where water temperature was 3 °C above that of the basal stream water. Biofilm colonization was monitored during 42 days in the two stream halves. Changes in biofilm function (extracellular enzyme activities and carbon substrate utilization profiles) as well as chlorophyll a and prokaryote densities were analyzed. The biofilm in the experimental half showed a higher capacity to decompose cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and peptidic compounds. Total leucine-aminopeptidase, cellobiohydrolase and ?-xylosidase showed a respective 93, 66, and 61% increase in activity over the control; much higher than would be predicted by only the direct temperature physical effect. In contrast, phosphatase and lipase activity showed the lowest sensitivity to temperature. The biofilms from the experimental half also showed a distinct functional fingerprint and higher carbon usage diversity and richness, especially due to a wider use of polymers and carbohydrates. The changes in the biofilm functional capabilities might be indirectly affected by the higher prokaryote and chlorophyll density measured in the biofilm of the experimental half. The present study provides evidence that a realistic stream temperature increase by 3 °C changes the biofilm metabolism to a greater decomposition of polymeric complex compounds and peptides but lower decomposition of lipids. This might affect stream organic matter cycling and the transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels.
The replacement of native Portuguese forests by Eucalyptus globulus is often associated with deleterious effects on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Several studies have suggested that such a phenomenon is linked with the leaf essential oils released into the environment during the Eucalyptus leaf degradation process. However, to date, the way these compounds affect leaf degradation in terrestrial systems i.e. by direct toxic effects to soil invertebrates or indirectly by affecting food of soil fauna, is still unknown. In order to explore this question, the effect of essential oils extracted from E. globulus leaves on terrestrial systems was investigated. Fungal growth tests with species known as leaf colonizers (Mucor hiemalis, Alternaria alternata, Penicillium sp., Penicillium glabrum and Fusarium roseum) were performed to evaluate the antifungal effect of essential oils. In addition, a reproduction test with the collembolans Folsomia candida was done using a gradient of eucalyptus essential oils in artificial soil. The influence of essential oils on feeding behaviour of F. candida and the isopods Porcellio dilatatus was also investigated through food avoidance and consumption tests. Eucalyptus essential oils were lethal at concentrations between 2.5-20 µL/mL and inhibited growth of all fungal species between 1.25-5 µL/mL. The collembolan reproduction EC50 value was 35.0 (28.6-41.2) mg/kg and both collembola and isopods preferred leaves without oils. Results suggested that the effect of essential oils in leaf processing is related to direct toxic effects on fungi and soil fauna and to indirect effects on the quality and availability of food to soil invertebrates.
Frequency and amplitude of temperature oscillations can profoundly affect structure and function of ecosystems. Unless the rate of a biological process changes linearly within the range of these fluctuations, the cumulative effect of temperature differs from the effect measured at the average temperature (Jensens inequality). Here, we measured numbers and types of spores released by aquatic hyphomycetes from oak and alder leaves that had been exposed in a Portuguese stream for between 7 and 94 days. Recovered leaves were incubated at four temperatures between 5 and 20 °C. Over this range, the sporulation response to temperature was decelerating, with an estimated optimum around 12.5 °C. Assuming a linear response, therefore, overestimates spore release from decaying leaves. The calculated discrepancy was more pronounced with recalcitrant oak leaves (greater toughness, phenolics concentration, lower N and P concentration than alder), and reached 26.6 % when temperature was assumed to oscillate between 1 and 9 °C, rather than remaining constant at 5 °C. The maximum fluctuation of water temperature over 48 h during the field experiment was approximately 3 °C, which would result in a discrepancy of up to 6 %. The composition of the fungal community (assessed by species identification of released spores) was significantly influenced by the state of decomposition, but not by leaf species or temperature. When quantifying the potential impact of global change on aquatic fungal communities, the average increase as well as fluctuations of the temperature have to be considered.
Aquatic hyphomycetes, a group of polyphyletic fungi, have been reported in streams contaminated with metals. This tolerance to metal contamination however can result in limited performance and limited ability to cope with additional environmental change. The predicted increase in water temperature, as a consequence of global warming, will have an additional effect on many streams. The sensitivity to temperature of strains of three aquatic hyphomycete species isolated from a metal-contaminated stream and an uncontaminated stream was assessed by determining their radial growth and activity (conidial production, oxygen consumption, mycelial biomass accumulation, fine particulate organic matter [FPOM] production, and microbial induced leaf mass loss) at 13 C (present water temperature in autumn) and at 18 C (predicted water temperature under global warming). Growth and reproductive activity generally were depressed for the strains isolated from the metal-contaminated stream when compared with those isolated from the unpolluted stream. These differences however were not translated into differences in FPOM production and leaf-litter mass loss, indicating that the strains isolated from the contaminated stream can decompose leaf litter similar to those of the reference stream. The 5 C increase in temperature stimulated fungal activity and litter decomposition, irrespective of species and strain. This might have strong effect on aquatic food-web and ecosystem functioning under global warming because increases in litter decomposition might lead to food shortage for higher trophic levels. The sensitivity to temperature depended on the response variable, species and strain. FPOM production was the variable most sensitive to temperature across strains and species and that for which temperature sensitivities differed most between strains. Fungal tolerance to metal contamination affects the extent to which its functions are stimulated by an increase in temperature, constituting an additional cost of metal tolerance.
The presence of aquatic hyphomycetes has been reported for several heavy metal-contaminated waters. Tolerance probably is one adaptation to coping with heavy metals. To help clarify this issue strains of two species of aquatic hyphomycetes (Tricladium splendens Ingold and Varicosporium elodeae Kegel) were isolated from a reference stream and a stream contaminated with heavy metals and grown on malt extract agar prepared with reference and contaminated water to characterize colony morphology, growth rate, growth inhibition and interaction among species and strains. In V. elodeae the morphology of colonies differed between strains. Colony diameter increased linearly over time with growth rates being lower for strains isolated from contaminated than from reference streams (mostly for V. elodeae). Strains from the contaminated stream grew faster in medium prepared with contaminated water than in medium prepared with reference water, while for strains from the reference stream there was no significant difference in growth rates on the two media. In interacting isolates radial growth toward the opposing colony was generally lower than toward the dish edge. Percentage growth inhibition was higher for isolates in intraspecific interactions (13-37%) than in interspecific interactions (3-27%). However differences in growth inhibition experienced by interacting isolates were observed only in three cases out of 16. The difference between the percentage inhibition caused and experienced by a given isolate was highest in interactions involving isolates with distinct growth rates. Our results suggest that strains from the reference stream tolerate heavy metals while strains from the contaminated stream seem to be adapted to contaminated waters. We hypothesize that in natural environments fungal species-specific limits of tolerance to metal contamination might determine an abrupt or gradual response of the original fungal community to mine pollution giving origin to a poorer fungal community dominated by adapted strains with distinct functional efficiency.
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