Bulk sediment characteristics and geomicrobiology of sediment core 5022-1J from Laguna Potrok Aike, southern Patagonia


Living microorganisms inhabit every environment of the biosphere but only in the last decades their importance governing biochemical cycles in deep sediments has been widely recognized. Most investigations have been accomplished in the marine realm whereas there is a clear paucity of comparable studies in lacustrine sediments. One of the main challenges is to define geomicrobiological proxies that can be used to identify different microbial signals in the sediments. Laguna Potrok Aike, a maar lake located in Southeastern Patagonia, has an annually not stratifying cold water column with temperatures ranging between 4 and 10 °C, and most probably an anoxic water/sediment interface. These unusual features make it a peculiar and interesting site for geomicrobiological studies. Living microbial activity within the sediments was inspected by the first time in a sedimentary core retrieved during an ICDP-sponsored drilling operation. The main goals to study this cold subsaline environment were to characterize the living microbial consortium; to detect early diagenetic signals triggered by active microbes; and to investigate plausible links between climate and microbial populations. Results from a meter long gravity core suggest that microbial activity in lacustrine sediments can be sustained deeper than previously thought due to their adaptation to both changing temperature and oxygen availability. A multi-proxy study of the same core allowed defining past water column conditions and further microbial reworking of the organic fraction within the sediments. Methane content shows a gradual increase with depth as a result of the fermentation of methylated substrates, first methanogenic pathway to take place in the shallow subsurface of freshwater and subsaline environments. Statistical analyses of DGGE microbial diversity profiles indicate four clusters for Bacteria reflecting layered communities linked to the oxidant type whereas three clusters characterize Archaea communities that can be linked to both denitrifiers and methanogens. Independent sedimentary and biological proxies suggest that organic matter production and/or preservation have been lower during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) coinciding with a low microbial colonization of the sediments. Conversely, a reversed trend with higher organic matter content and substantial microbial activity characterizes the sediments deposited during the Little Ice Age (LIA). Thus, the initial sediments deposited during distinctive time intervals under contrasting environmental conditions have to be taken into account to understand their impact on the development of microbial communities throughout the sediments and their further imprint on early diagenetic signals.

This study was financially and logistically supported by ICDP, Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 200020-119931/2 to D. Ariztegui), University of Geneva, University of Bremen, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Eawag, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, University of Buenos Aires, Secretaria de Ciencia y Tecnologia of Cordoba, Vetenskapsrädet of Sweden.

Supplement to: Vuillemin, Aurèle; Ariztegui, Daniel; PASADO Science Team (2013): Geomicrobiological investigations in subsaline maar lake sediments over the last 1500 years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 71, 119-130

DOI https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.811523
Related Identifier https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.04.011
Metadata Access https://ws.pangaea.de/oai/provider?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=datacite4&identifier=oai:pangaea.de:doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.811523
Creator Vuillemin, Aurèle ; Ariztegui, Daniel
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2013
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 381 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (-70.377 LON, -51.965 LAT); Laguna Potrok Aike, Patagonia