Microbial community diversity and heterotrophic production in a coastal Arctic ecosystem: A stamukhi lake and its source waters

Galand, Pierre E., Connie Lovejoy, Jérémie Pouliot, Marie-Ève Garneau, Warwick F. Vincent

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(2), 2008, 813-823 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.2.0813

ABSTRACT: Stamukhi lakes are vast but little-explored Arctic ecosystems. They occur throughout winter, spring, and early summer near large river inflows along the Arctic coastline, and are the result of freshwater retention behind the thick barrier of rubble ice (stamukhi) that forms at the outer limit of land-fast sea ice. We examined the molecular biodiversity within all three microbial domains (Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota) and the heterotrophic productivity in Lake Mackenzie, a stamukhi lake in the western Canadian Arctic, and made comparative measurements in the freshwater (Mackenzie River) and marine (Beaufort Sea) source waters. Bacterial and eukaryotic communities in the stamukhi lake differed in composition and diversity from both marine and riverine environments, whereas the archaeal communities were similar in the lake and river. Bacteria 16S ribosomal RNA sequences from the lake were mostly within freshwater clusters of Betaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes and the Archaea were within the Lake Dagow sediment and Rice cluster-V clusters of Euryarchaeota. The eukaryotes were mainly ciliates from the subclass Choreotrichia, and there was a notable lack of flagellates. Heterotrophic production rates in the lake were lower than in the river and more similar to those in the sea, despite much higher bacterial concentrations than in either. The lake samples had markedly higher ratios of 3H leucine to 3H thymidine incorporation than in the river and sea, implying some physiological stress. Lake Mackenzie is an active microbial ecosystem with distinct physical and microbiological properties. This circumpolar ecosystem type, vulnerable to the ongoing effects of climate change, likely plays a key functional role in processing riverine inputs to the Arctic Ocean.

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