Recent studies on the impacts of disturbance on microbial communities indicate communities show differential responses to disturbance, yet our understanding of how different microbial communities may respond to and recover from disturbance is still rudimentary. We investigated impacts of tidal restriction followed by tidal restoration on abundance and diversity of denitrifying bacteria, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in New England salt marshes by analyzing nirS and bacterial and archaeal amoA genes, respectively. TRFLP analysis of nirS and betaproteobacterial amoA genes revealed significant differences between restored and undisturbed marshes, with the greatest differences detected in deeper sediments. Additionally, community patterns indicated a potential recovery trajectory for denitrifiers. Analysis of archaeal amoA genes, however, revealed no differences in community composition between restored and undisturbed marshes, but we detected significantly higher gene abundance in deeper sediment at restored sites. Abundances of nirS and betaproteobacterial amoA genes were also significantly greater in deeper sediments at restored sites. Porewater ammonium was significantly higher at depth in restored sediments compared to undisturbed sediments, suggesting a possible mechanism driving some of the community differences. Our results suggest that impacts of disturbance on denitrifying and ammonia-oxidizing communities remain nearly 30 years after restoration, potentially impacting nitrogen-cycling processes in the marsh. We also present data suggesting that sampling deeper in sediments may be critical for detecting disturbance effects in coastal sediments.
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Bernhard, Anne E.; Dwyer, Courtney; Idrizi, Adrian; Bender, Geoffrey; and Zwick, Rachel, "Long-term impacts of disturbance on nitrogen-cycling bacteria in a New England salt marsh" (2015). Biology Faculty Publications. 33.
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