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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Environmental Microbiology

Pyrosequencing Reveals Bacteria Carried in Different Wind-Eroded Sediments


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 3, p. 744-753
    Received: Sept 22, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): terrence.gardner@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Terrence Gardner *ab,
  2. Veronica Acosta-Martineza,
  3. Francisco J. Calderónc,
  4. Ted M. Zobecka,
  5. Matthew Baddockad,
  6. R. Scott Van Pelte,
  7. Zachary Senwob,
  8. Scot Dowdf and
  9. Stephen Coxf
  1. a USDA–ARS, Wind Erosion & Water Conservation Research Unit, Lubbock, TX 79415
    b Alabama A&M Univ., Dep. of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Normal, AL 35762
    c USDA–ARS, Central Great Plains Research Station, 40335 County Road GG, Akron, CO 80720
    d Univ. of Virginia, Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Charlottesville, VA 22904
    e USDA–ARS, Wind Erosion & Water Conservation Research Unit, Big Spring, TX 79720
    f Research and Testing Lab., 1004 Garfield Dr., Bldg. 340, Lubbock, TX 79416. Mention of trade names or commercial products is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Assigned to Associate Editor Robert Dungan


Little is known about the microbial communities carried in wind-eroded sediments from various soil types and land management systems. The novel technique of pyrosequencing promises to expand our understanding of the microbial diversity of soils and eroded sediments because it can sequence 10 to 100 times more DNA fragments than previous techniques, providing enhanced exploration into what microbes are being lost from soil due to wind erosion. Our study evaluated the bacterial diversity of two types of wind-eroded sediments collected from three different organic-rich soils in Michigan using a portable field wind tunnel. The wind-eroded sediments evaluated were a coarse sized fraction with 66% of particles >106 μm (coarse eroded sediment) and a finer eroded sediment with 72% of particles <106 μm. Our findings suggested that (i) bacteria carried in the coarser sediment and fine dust were effective fingerprints of the source soil, although their distribution may vary depending on the soil characteristics because certain bacteria may be more protected in soil surfaces than others; (ii) coarser wind-eroded sediment showed higher bacterial diversity than fine dust in two of the three soils evaluated; and (iii) certain bacteria were more predominant in fine dust (Bacteroidetes, Chloroflexi, and Firmicutes) than coarse sediment (Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria), revealing different locations and niches of bacteria in soil, which, depending on wind erosion processes, can have important implications on the soil sustainability and functioning. Infrared spectroscopy showed that wind erosion preferentially removes particular kinds of C from the soil that are lost via fine dust. Our study shows that eroded sediments remove the active labile organic soil particulates containing key microorganisms involved in soil biogeochemical processes, which can have a negative impact on the quality and functioning of the source soil.

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