Investigation of Biological Soil Crusts Metabolic Webs Using Exometabolomic Analysis

Monday, 15 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Trent Northen1, Ulas Karaoz2, Stefan Jenkins1, Rebecca Lau2, Benjamin Bowen1, Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz3, Ferran Garcia-Pichel3, Eoin Brodie1 and Baran Richard1, (1)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA, United States, (3)Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, Tempe, AZ, United States
Desert biological soil crusts are simple cyanobacteria-dominated surface soil microbial communities found in areas with infrequent wetting, often extreme temperatures, low coverage of vascular plants and constitute the world’s largest biofilm. They exist for extended periods in a desiccated dormant state, yet rapidly re-boot metabolism within minutes of wetting. These soil microbial communities are highly dependent on filamentous cyanobacteria such as Microcoleus vaginatusto stabilize the soil and to act as primary producers for the community through the release carbon sources to feed a diversity of heterotrophs.

Exometabolomic analysis was performed using liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry on biological soil crust pore water and spent media of key soil bacterial isolates. Comparison of spent vs. fresh media was used to determine uptake or release of metabolites by specific microbes. To link pore water experiments with isolate studies, metabolite extracts of authentic soil were used as supplements for isolate exometabolomic profiling. Our soil metabolomics methods detected hundreds of metabolites from soils including may novel compounds. Only a small set of which being targeted by all isolates. Beyond these few metabolites, the individual bacteria examined showed specialization towards specific metabolites. Surprisingly, many of the most abundant oligosaccharides and other metabolites were ignored by these isolates. The observed specialization of biological soil crust bacteria may play a significant role in determining community structure.