Fifty-years of data from a 'living' oxygen minimum lab could help predict the oceans' future

November 02, 2017

Canadian and US Department of Energy researchers have released 50 years' worth of data chronicling the deoxygenating cycles of a fjord off Canada's west coast, and detailing the response of the microbial communities inhabiting the fjord.

The mass of data, collected in two new Nature family papers, could help scientists better predict the impact of human activities and ocean deoxygenation on marine environments. Currently, oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) constitute up to 7 percent of global ocean volume. Continued expansion of OMZs in the northeastern subarctic Pacific has the potential to transport oxygen-depleted waters into coastal regions, adversely affecting nutrient cycles and fisheries productivity.

"We live on an ocean-dominated planet, and the ocean's cellular life is in turn dominated by microbial communities that form interaction networks which are both resilient and responsive to environmental perturbation," said University of British Columbia microbiologist Steven Hallam.

"These microbial networks drive nutrient and energy conversion processes responsible for essential ecosystem functions and services."

The research is novel in the size and scope of sampling as well as the volume of data collected, according to study co-author Angela Norbeck, scientist at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

"This research can help to predict the changes in the ecosystem when surface waters are warmed, the effects of coastline development on an enclosed water basin, and provide insight regarding carbon cycling and adaptation mechanisms of marine organisms."

In the pair of Nature Scientific Data studies, a multi-institutional team of researchers led by Hallam addressed these issues by presenting paired geochemical and multi-omic sequence (DNA, RNA and protein) information collected from time-series monitoring in a model ecosystem to study microbial community responses to ocean deoxygenation.

In one of the studies, the researchers present a historical dataset of oxygen concentrations spanning 50 years, as well as monthly geochemical time-series observations from 2006 to 2014 in Saanich Inlet, a fjord on the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, that undergoes recurring seasonal deoxygenating cycles.

In the second study, the researchers present six years of time-resolved multi-omic observations in Saanich Inlet. "These data sets, in combination with the geochemical compendium, comprise a unique time-resolved framework for reconstructing microbial community metabolism along defined geochemical gradients and promoting the development of models to predict microbial community responses to ocean deoxygenation," Hallam said.

"These observations take on immediate significance as we consider the potential impacts of OMZ expansion on marine resources and our climate system," says Hallam. "These ecological impacts represent a recurring theme throughout the global ocean that transcends the anthropogenic boundaries of single nations or states."
Nature Scientific Data: A compendium of multi-omic sequence information from the Saanich Inlet water column

A compendium of geochemical information from the Saanich Inlet water column

University of British Columbia

Related Ecosystem Articles from Brightsurf:

Breast cancer 'ecosystem' reveals possible new targets for treatment
Garvan researchers have used cellular genomics to uncover promising therapy targets for triple negative breast cancer.

Unparalleled inventory of the human gut ecosystem
Scientists gathered and published over 200 000 genomes from the human gut microbiome.

Cycad plants provide an important 'ecosystem service'
A study published in the June 2020 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Horticulturae shows that cycads, which are in decline and among the world's most threatened group of plants, provide an important service to their neighboring organisms.

More ecosystem engineers create stability, preventing extinctions
Biological builders like beavers, elephants, and shipworms re-engineer their environments.

Ecosystem degradation could raise risk of pandemics
Environmental destruction may make pandemics more likely and less manageable, new research suggests.

Improving the operation and performance of Wi-Fi networks for the 5G/6G ecosystem
An article published in the advanced online edition of the journal Computer Communications shows that the use of machine learning can improve the operation and performance of the Wi-Fi networks of the future, those of the 5G/6G ecosystem.

A lost world and extinct ecosystem
The field study site of Pinnacle Point, South Africa, sits at the center of the earliest evidence for symbolic behavior, complex pyrotechnology, projectile weapons, and the first use of foods from the sea, both geographically and scientifically, having contributed much on the evolutionary road to being a modern human.

Ecosystem services are not constrained by borders
What do chocolate, migratory birds, flood control and pandas have in common?

Late cretaceous dinosaur-dominated ecosystem
A topic of considerable interest to paleontologists is how dinosaur-dominated ecosystems were structured, how dinosaurs and co-occurring animals were distributed across the landscape, how they interacted with one another, and how these systems compared to ecosystems today.

How transient invaders can transform an ecosystem
Study finds microbes can alter an environment dramatically before dying out.

Read More: Ecosystem News and Ecosystem Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to