Wurzbacher C, Nilsson RH, Rautio M, Peura S
ISME J 11 (8) 1938-1941 [2017-08-00; online 2017-04-21]
In the transition zone of the shifting permafrost border, thaw ponds emerge as hotspots of microbial activity, processing the ancient carbon freed from the permafrost. We analyzed the microbial succession across a gradient of recently emerged to older ponds using three molecular markers: one universal, one bacterial and one fungal. Age was a major modulator of the microbial community of the thaw ponds. Surprisingly, typical freshwater taxa comprised only a small fraction of the community. Instead, thaw ponds of all age classes were dominated by enigmatic bacterial and fungal phyla. Our results on permafrost thaw ponds lead to a revised perception of the thaw pond ecosystem and their microbes, with potential implications for carbon and nutrient cycling in this increasingly important class of freshwaters.