Rapid response of the active microbial community to CO2 exposure from a controlled sub-seabed CO2 leak in Ardmucknish Bay (Oban, Scotland)

The response of the benthic microbial community to a controlled sub-seabed CO2 leak was assessed using quantitative PCR measurements of benthic bacterial, archaeal and cyanobacteria/chloroplast 16S rRNA genes. Samples were taken from four zones (epicentre; 25 m distant, 75 m distant and 450 m distant) during 6 time points (7 days before CO2 exposure, after 14 and 36 days of CO2 release, and 6, 20 and 90 days after the CO2 release had ended). Changes to the active community of microphytobenthos and bacteria were also assessed before, during and after CO2 release. Increases in the abundance of microbial 16S rRNA were detected after 14 days of CO2 release and at a distance of 25 m from the epicentre. CO2 related changes to the relative abundance of both major and minor bacterial taxa were detected: most notably an increase in the relative abundance of the Planctomycetacia after 14 days of CO2 release. Also evident was a decrease in the abundance of microbial 16S rRNA genes at the leak epicentre during the initial recovery phase: this coincided with the highest measurements of DIC within the sediment, but may be related to the release of potentially toxic metals at this time point.

Tait K., Stahl H., Taylor P. & Widdicombe S.in press. Rapid response of the active microbial community to CO2 exposure from a controlled sub-seabed CO2 leak in Ardmucknish Bay (Oban, Scotland). International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. Article (subscription required).

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