Environ Microbiol 20(7) , 2568-2584 (Jul 2018)
Northern lakes are ice-covered for a large part of the year, yet our understanding of microbial diversity and activity during winter lags behind that of the ice-free period. In this study, we investigated under-ice diversity and metabolism of Verrucomicrobia in seasonally ice-covered lakes in temperate and boreal regions of Quebec, Canada using 16S rRNA sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. Verrucomicrobia, particularly the V1, V3 and V4 subdivisions, were abundant during ice-covered periods. A diversity of Verrucomicrobia genomes were reconstructed from Quebec lake metagenomes. Several genomes were associated with the ice-covered period and were represented in winter metatranscriptomes, supporting the notion that Verrucomicrobia are metabolically active under ice. Verrucomicrobia transcriptome analysis revealed a range of metabolisms potentially occurring under ice, including carbohydrate degradation, glycolate utilization, scavenging of chlorophyll degradation products, and urea use. Genes for aerobic sulfur and hydrogen oxidation were expressed, suggesting chemolithotrophy may be an adaptation to conditions where labile carbon may be limited. The expression of genes for flagella biosynthesis and chemotaxis was detected, suggesting Verrucomicrobia may be actively sensing and responding to winter nutrient pulses, such as phytoplankton blooms. These results increase our understanding on the diversity and metabolic processes occurring under ice in northern lakes ecosystems.(c) 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.