Microbial community structure and activity linked to contrasting biogeochemical gradients in bog and fen environments of the glacial lake agassiz peatland

X. Lin, S. Green, M. M. Tfaily, O. Prakash, K. T. Konstantinidis, J. E. Corbett, J. P. Chanton, W. T. Cooper, J. E. Kostka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


The abundances, compositions, and activities of microbial communities were investigated at bog and fen sites in the Glacial Lake Agassiz Peatland of northwestern Minnesota. These sites contrast in the reactivity of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and the presence or absence of groundwater inputs. Microbial community composition was characterized using pyrosequencing and clone library construction of phylogenetic marker genes. Microbial distribution patterns were linked to pH, concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, C/N ratios, optical properties of DOM, and activities of laccase and peroxidase enzymes. Both bacterial and archaeal richness and rRNA gene abundance were>2 times higher on average in the fen than in the bog, in agreement with a higher pH, labile DOM content, and enhanced enzyme activities in the fen. Fungi were equivalent to an average of 1.4% of total prokaryotes in gene abundance assayed by quantitative PCR. Results revealed statistically distinct spatial patterns between bacterial and fungal communities. Fungal distribution did not covary with pH and DOM optical properties and was vertically stratified, with a prevalence of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota near the surface and much higher representation of Zygomycota in the subsurface. In contrast, bacterial community composition largely varied between environments, with the bog dominated by Acidobacteria (61% of total sequences), while the Firmicutes (52%) dominated in the fen. Acetoclastic Methanosarcinales showed a much higher relative abundance in the bog, in contrast to the dominance of diverse hydrogenotrophic methanogens in the fen. This is the first quantitative and compositional analysis of three microbial domains in peatlands and demonstrates that the microbial abundance, diversity, and activity parallel with the pronounced differences in environmental variables between bog and fen sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7023-7031
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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