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Review article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Environmental paleomicrobiology: using DNA preserved in aquatic sediments to its full potential

Capo, Eric; Monchamp, Marie-Eve; Coolen, Marco J. L.; Domaizon, Isabelle; Armbrecht, Linda; Bertilsson, Stefan

Abstract

In-depth knowledge about spatial and temporal variation in microbial diversity and function is needed for a better understanding of ecological and evolutionary responses to global change. In particular, the study of microbial ancient DNA preserved in sediment archives from lakes and oceans can help us to evaluate the responses of aquatic microbes in the past and make predictions about future biodiversity change in those ecosystems. Recent advances in molecular genetic methods applied to the analysis of historically deposited DNA in sediments have not only allowed the taxonomic identification of past aquatic microbial communities but also enabled tracing their evolution and adaptation to episodic disturbances and gradual environmental change. Nevertheless, some challenges remain for scientists to take full advantage of the rapidly developing field of paleo-genetics, including the limited ability to detect rare taxa and reconstruct complete genomes for evolutionary studies. Here, we provide a brief review of some of the recent advances in the field of environmental paleomicrobiology and discuss remaining challenges related to the application of molecular genetic methods to study microbial diversity, ecology, and evolution in sediment archives. We anticipate that, in the near future, environmental paleomicrobiology will shed new light on the processes of microbial genome evolution and microbial ecosystem responses to quaternary environmental changes at an unprecedented level of detail. This information can, for example, aid geological reconstructions of biogeochemical cycles and predict ecosystem responses to environmental perturbations, including in the context of human-induced global changes.

Published in

Environmental Microbiology
2022, Volume: 24, number: 5, pages: 2201-2209
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
      SDG15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Microbiology

      Publication identifier

      DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.15913

      Permanent link to this page (URI)

      https://res.slu.se/id/publ/115962