Microbial Diversity in a Military Impacted Lagoon (Vieques, Puerto Rico) as Revealed by Metagenomics

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2018-01-01
DavilaSantiago, Lizbeth
DeLeonRodriguez, Natasha
LaSantaPagan, Katia
Hatt, Janet
Kurt, Zöhre
Massol-Deyá, Arturo
Konstantinidis, Konstantinos T
The Anones Lagoon, located in the island municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico (PR), received extensive bombing during military practices by the US Navy for decades. After military activities ceased in 2003, the bombing range was designated as part of a larger Superfund site by US EPA. Here, we employed shotgun metagenomic sequencing to investigate how microbial communities responded to pollution by heavy metals and explosives at this lagoon. Sediment samples (0-5 cm) from Anones were collected in 2005 and 2014 and compared to samples from two reference lagoons, i.e., Guaniquilla, Cabo Rojo (a natural reserve) and Condado, San Juan (PR’s capital city). Consistent with selection under low anthropogenic impacts, Guaniquilla exhibited the highest degree of diversity with lower frequency of genes related to xenobiotics metabolism among the three lagoons. Notably, a clear shift was observed in Anones, with Euryarchaeota becoming enriched (9% of total) and a concomitant increase in community diversity, by about one order of magnitude, after almost 10 years without bombing activities. In contrast, genes associated with explosives biodegradation and heavy metal transformation significantly decreased in abundance in Anones 2014 (by 91.5%). Five unique population genomes were recovered from the Anones 2005 sample that encoded genetic determinants implicated in biodegradation of contaminants. Collectively, these results provided new insights into the natural attenuation of explosive contaminants by the benthic microbial communities of the Anones lagoon and could serve as reference points to enhance bioremediation actions at this site and for assessing other similarly impacted sites. Importance This study represents the first assessment of the benthic microbial community in the Anones Lagoon in Vieques, Puerto Rico after the impact of intense pollution by bombs and unconventional weapons during military training exercises. Evaluating the microbial diversity of Anones, represents an opportunity to assess the microbial succession patterns during the active process of natural attenuation of pollutants. The culture-independent techniques employed to study these environmental samples allowed the recovery of almost complete genomes of several abundant species that were likely involved in the biodegradation of pollutants and thus, represented species responding to the strong selection pressure posed by military activities. Further, our results showed that natural attenuation has proceeded to a great extend ten years after the cease of military activities.
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Citation Formats
L. DavilaSantiago et al., “Microbial Diversity in a Military Impacted Lagoon (Vieques, Puerto Rico) as Revealed by Metagenomics,” bioRxiv, pp. 0–0, 2018, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/40819.