August 6, 2020

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Daniel Montiel Coauthored a Paper on Microbial Community Composition in the PLOS ONE Journal

Daniel Montiel, Ph.D. (Florida) coauthored a paper entitled "Microbial community composition across a coastal hydrological system affected by submarine groundwater discharge (SGD)" that was published in the PLOS ONE journal on June 29, 2020.

Daniel's coauthors were Dini Adyasari, Christiane Hassenrück, and Natasha Dimova.

Daniel Montiel is a Senior Staff Scientist based in Florida focused on hydrogeology, karst terrain, and water resources management. He has additional experience with aquifer testing, groundwater flow and particle tracking modeling, radioisotopes, stable isotopes, groundwater and surface water discharge, and sediment coring.

PLOS ONE is an inclusive journal community working together to advance science for the benefit of society, now and in the future. Founded with the aim of accelerating the pace of scientific advancement and demonstrating its value, the journal is focused on publishing rigorous science, making it freely accessible to all. The research they publish is multidisciplinary and, often, interdisciplinary. PLOS ONE accepts research in over two hundred subject areas across science, engineering, medicine, and the related social sciences and humanities. They evaluate submitted manuscripts on the basis of methodological rigor and high ethical standards, regardless of perceived novelty.

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Mobile Bay, the fourth largest estuary in the USA located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, is known for extreme hypoxia in the water column during dry season caused by NH4+-rich and anoxic submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). Nutrient dynamics in the coastal ecosystem point to potentially elevated microbial activities; however, little is known about microbial community composition and their functional roles in this area. In this study, we investigated microbial community composition, distribution, and metabolic prediction along the coastal hydrological compartment of Mobile Bay using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We collected microbial samples from surface (river and bay water) and subsurface water (groundwater and coastal pore water from two SGD sites with peat and sandy lithology, respectively). Salinity was identified as the primary factor affecting the distribution of microbial communities across surface water samples, while DON and PO43- were the major predictor of community shift within subsurface water samples. Higher microbial diversity was found in coastal pore water in comparison to surface water samples. Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidia, and Oxyphotobacteria dominated the bacterial community. Among the archaea, methanogens were prevalent in the peat-dominated SGD site, while the sandy SGD site was characterized by a higher proportion of ammonia-oxidizing archaea. Cyanobium PCC-6307 and unclassified Thermodesulfovibrionia were identified as dominant taxa strongly associated with trends in environmental parameters in surface and subsurface samples, respectively. Microbial communities found in the groundwater and peat layer consisted of taxa known for denitrification and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA). This finding suggested that microbial communities might also play a significant role in mediating nitrogen transformation in the SGD flow path and in affecting the chemical composition of SGD discharging to the water column. Given the ecological importance of microorganisms, further studies at higher taxonomic and functional resolution are needed to accurately predict chemical biotransformation processes along the coastal hydrological continuum, which influence water quality and environmental condition in Mobile Bay.

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