Carbon sources of benthic fauna in temperate lakes across multiple trophic states

Fiskal, Annika; Anthamatten, Eva; Deng, Longhui; Han, Xingguo; Lagostina, Lorenzo; Michel, Anja; Zhu, Rong; Dubois, Nathalie; Schubert, Carsten J.; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Lever, Mark A.

Previous studies have shown that microbially produced methane can be a dominant carbon source of lacustrine sedimentary macrofauna in eutrophic lakes, most likely through grazing on methane-oxidizing bacteria. Here we investigate the contributions of different carbon sources to macrofaunal biomass across five lakes in central Switzerland that range from oligotrophic to highly eutrophic. Macrofaunal communities change with trophic state, with chironomid larvae dominating oligotrophic and tubificid oligochaetes dominating eutrophic lake sediments. The inline-formula13C-isotopic data suggest that the average contribution of methane-derived carbon to the biomass of both macrofaunal groups is similar but consistently remains minor, ranging from only inline-formula∼1inline-formula% in the oligotrophic lake to at most 12 inline-formula% in the eutrophic lakes. The remaining biomass can be explained by the assimilation of detritus-derived organic carbon. Low abundances of methane-cycling microorganisms in macrofaunal specimens, burrows, and surrounding sediment based on 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequences and copy numbers of genes involved in anaerobic and aerobic methane cycling (mcrA, pmoA) support the interpretation of isotopic data. Notably, 16S rRNA gene sequences of macrofauna, including macrofaunal guts, are highly divergent from those in tubes or sediments. Many macrofaunal specimens are dominated by a single 16S rRNA phylotype of Fusobacteria, inline-formulaα-, inline-formulaβ-, inline-formulaγ-, or inline-formulaε-Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, or Parcubacteria. This raises the question of whether dominant lake macrofauna live in so far uncharacterized relationships with detrital organic-matter-degrading bacterial endosymbionts.

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Fiskal, Annika / Anthamatten, Eva / Deng, Longhui / et al: Carbon sources of benthic fauna in temperate lakes across multiple trophic states. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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