Congratulations to Paula from our research group, who just had some research published in Global Change Biology. Her paper describes some of the highest sulfate reduction rates and methane fluxes ever measured in a freshwater ecosystem. Her research was performed in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America, where high dissolved organic carbon concentrations in wetland pore waters likely sustain such high rates of microbial activity.
Recently published – work led by Bob Danczak in the Wilkins Lab investigating how seasonal snowmelt-driven fluctuations in Colorado River discharge drive changing biogeochemical processes in riverbed sediments. Bob was able to use a suite of tools, including hydrologic modeling, geochemical analyses, 16S rRNA gene surveys, and ecological models to probe this system, and uncover a unique microbial community that persists in the zone of groundwater-river water mixing. This riverbed zone plays a critical role in the processing of carbon and metals, and therefore any future changes in river discharge will impact in situ biogeochemical cycling. The work was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences:
Danczak RE, Sawyer AH, Williams KH, Stegen JC, Hobson C, and Wilkins MJ (2016) Seasonal hyporheic dynamics control coupled microbiology and geochemistry in Colorado River sediments. JGR – Biogeosciences. doi: 10.1002/2016JG003527
The Wilkins lab was involved in a just-published study tracking microbial populations and metabolisms in hydraulically fractured shales. The work – published yesterday in Nature Microbiology – identified dominant microbial populations that catalyze the conversion of methylamines into methane. While the detection of viable biomass in deep fractured shales may be problematic for the oil and gas industry, the potential for new biogenic methane to be generated could offer a potential mechanism for increasing the longevity of such wells.
While some Wilkins lab members were living it up in Montreal at ISME16, Casey Saup and Mike Wilkins traveled to Crested Butte, Colorado to install redox probes and collect samples at the East River. This is a Department of Energy funded project that is associated with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Science Focus Area at the same location. As the pictures below show, the field site is in a spectacular location…
A third-year graduate student in the group, Bob Danczak, just published some of his research from the Rifle site in western Colorado. He had studied linkages between river discharge in the adjacent Colorado River, and biogeochemical processes in the floodplain subsurface. He discovered that increasing river stage (linked to seasonal snowmelt patterns) caused increases in the water table height, driving a series of microbiological and geochemical changes in the aquifer. His research was published in Frontiers in Earth Science here
Collaborative research between scientists at Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) and members of the Wilkins Lab was published today in Nature Communications. The study investigated microbial processes in the hyporheic zone (where river water and groundwater mix) of the Columbia River in Washington State. Bob Danczak in the Wilkins Lab performed microbial community analyses to determine which microbial groups responded to organic carbon inputs in this reactive zone. The study is published here