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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

As above, so below? Effects of fungicides on microbial organic matter decomposition are stronger in the hyporheic than in the benthic zone

Bollinger, Eric; Zubrod, Jochen P.; Konschak, Marco; Sulzer, Lenz; Schnurr, Jacob; Schreiner, Verena C.; Schulz, Ralf; Bundschuh, Mirco


Microbial organic matter decomposition is a critical ecosystem function, which can be negatively affected by chemicals. Although the majority of organic matter is stored in sediments, the impact of chemicals has exclusively been studied in benthic systems. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed the impact of a fungicide mixture at three concentrations on the decomposition of black alder leaves in the benthic and hyporheic zone. We targeted two sediment treatments characterized by fine and coarse grain sizes (1-2 vs. 2-4 mm). Besides microbial communities' functioning (i.e., decomposition), we determined their structure through microbial biomass estimates and community composition. In absence of fungicides, leaf decomposition, microbial biomass estimates and fungal sporulation were lower in the hyporheic zone, while the importance of bacteria was elevated. Leaf decomposition was reduced (40%) under fungicide exposure in fine sediment with an effect size more than twice as high as in the benthic zone (15%). These differences are likely triggered by the lower hydraulic conductivity in the hyporheic zone influencing microbial dispersal as well as oxygen and nutrient fluxes. Since insights from the benthic zone are not easily transferable, these results indicate that the hyporheic zone requires a higher recognition with regard to ecotoxicological effects on organic matter decomposition.

Published in

Limnology and Oceanography
2022, Volume: 67, number: 1, pages: 39-52
Publisher: WILEY

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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