Environmental Microbiome 15(1) (Jan 21 2020)
Background Currently, much is unknown about the taxonomic diversity and the mechanisms of methane metabolism in the Florida Everglades ecosystem. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a section of the Florida Everglades that is almost entirely unstudied in regard to taxonomic profiling. This short report analyzes the metagenome of soil samples from this Refuge to investigate the predominant taxa, as well as the abundance of genes involved in environmentally significant metabolic pathways related to methane production (nitrogen fixation and dissimilatory sulfite reduction). Methods Shotgun metagenomic sequencing using the Illumina platform was performed on 17 soil samples from four different sites within the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and underwent quality control, assembly, and annotation. The soil from each sample was tested for water content and concentrations of organic carbon and nitrogen. Results The three most common phyla of bacteria for every site were Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Proteobacteria; however, there was variation in relative phylum composition. The most common phylum of Archaea was Euryarchaeota for all sites. Alpha and beta diversity analyses indicated significant congruity in taxonomic diversity in most samples from Sites 1, 3, and 4 and negligible congruity between Site 2 and the other sites. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing revealed the presence of biogeochemical biomarkers of particular interest (e.g., mrcA, nifH, and dsrB) within the samples. The normalized abundances of mcrA, nifH, and dsrB exhibited a positive correlation with nitrogen concentration and water content, and a negative correlation with organic carbon concentration. Conclusion This Everglades soil metagenomic study allowed examination of wetlands biological processes and showed expected correlations between measured organic constituents and prokaryotic gene frequency. Additionally, the taxonomic profile generated gives a basis for the diversity of prokaryotic microbial life throughout the Everglades.