Epp, Laura S.
Mitochondrial genomes of Pleistocene megafauna retrieved from recent sediment layers of two Siberian lakes
2023-09-01, Seeber, Peter A., Batke, Laura, Dvornikov, Yury A., Schmidt, Alexandra, Wang, Yi, Stoof-Leichsenring, Kathleen R., Moon, Katherine L., Shapiro, Beth, Epp, Laura S.
Ancient environmental DNA (aeDNA) from lake sediments has yielded remarkable insights for the reconstruction of past ecosystems, including suggestions of late survival of extinct species. However, translocation and lateral inflow of DNA in sediments can potentially distort the stratigraphic signal of the DNA. Using three different approaches on two short lake sediment cores of the Yamal peninsula, West Siberia, with ages spanning only the past hundreds of years, we detect DNA and assembled mitochondrial genomes of multiple mammoth and woolly rhinoceros individuals—both species that have been extinct for thousands of years on the mainland. The occurrence of clearly identifiable aeDNA of extinct Pleistocene megafauna (e.g., > 400K reads in one core) throughout these two short subsurface cores, along with specificities of sedimentology and dating, confirm that processes acting on regional scales, such as extensive permafrost thawing, can influence the aeDNA record and should be accounted for in aeDNA paleoecology.
Endangered spined loach Cobitis species in Southwest Germany : A complex network of native, hybrid and newly emerged populations
2023, Roch, Samuel, Bartolin, Patrick, Vonlanthen, Pascal, Baer, Jan, Grundmüller, Simon, Epp, Laura S., Brinker, Alexander
Successful conservation of cryptic species such as representatives of the genus Cobitis presents a challenge for fishery managers. Only Cobitis taenia L. is currently assumed to occur in southwest Germany, where it is classified as critically endangered. Established genetic markers and eDNA analysis identified three Cobitis species in the study area. Cobitis taenia and Cobitis elongatoides were widely distributed in the Rhine River system, primarily forming hybrid species complexes in which polyploid individuals dominate but coexist with diploid parent species. A third non-native species, Cobitis bilineata, has recently become established in the southern part of the Rhine to which it probably migrated naturally via the connected Aare River system. In the Danube River catchment, two populations, including one previously thought to be extinct, comprise both diploid and polyploid representatives of C. elongatoides. Our results provide an important basis for more targeted conservation strategies for Cobitis species currently found in the region.
Long-term fungus–plant covariation from multi-site sedimentary ancient DNA metabarcoding
2022-11, von Hippel, Barbara, Stoof-Leichsenring, Kathleen R., Schulte, Luise, Seeber, Peter A., Epp, Laura S., Biskaborn, Boris K., Diekmann, Bernhard, Melles, Martin, Pestryakova, Luidmila, Herzschuh, Ulrike
Climate change has a major impact on arctic and boreal terrestrial ecosystems as warming leads to northward treeline shifts, inducing consequences for heterotrophic organisms associated with the plant taxa. To unravel ecological dependencies, we address how long-term climatic changes have shaped the co-occurrence of plants and fungi across selected sites in Siberia.
We investigated sedimentary ancient DNA from five lakes spanning the last 47,000 years, using the ITS1 marker for fungi and the chloroplast P6 loop marker for vegetation metabarcoding. We obtained 706 unique fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and 243 taxa for the plants. We show higher OTU numbers in dry forest tundra as well as boreal forests compared to wet southern tundra. The most abundant fungal taxa in our dataset are Pseudeurotiaceae, Mortierella, Sordariomyceta, Exophiala, Oidiodendron, Protoventuria, Candida vartiovaarae, Pseudeurotium, Gryganskiella fimbricystis, and Trichosporiella cerebriformis. The overall fungal composition is explained by the plant composition as revealed by redundancy analysis. The fungal functional groups show antagonistic relationships in their climate susceptibility. The advance of woody taxa in response to past warming led to an increase in the abundance of mycorrhizae, lichens, and parasites, while yeast and saprotroph distribution declined. We also show co-occurrences between Salicaceae, Larix, and Alnus and their associated pathogens and detect higher mycorrhizal fungus diversity with the presence of Pinaceae. Under future warming, we can expect feedbacks between fungus composition and plant diversity changes which will affect forest advance, species diversity, and ecosystem stability in arctic regions.
Vegetation changes over the last centuries in the Lower Lake Constance region reconstructed from sediment‐core environmental DNA
2022-03-23, Ibrahim, Anan, Höckendorff, Stefanie, Schleheck, David, Epp, Laura S., van Kleunen, Mark, Meyer, Axel
Many European lake ecosystems, including their respective catchment areas, underwent anthropogenic environmental changes over the last centuries. This has resulted in changes in the aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, but historical records on the composition of the past vegetation on centennial scale are scarce. In this study, we examined changes in the terrestrial and aquatic plant communities in and around Lower Lake Constance using metabarcoding of sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) of three cores from different sub-basins covering the past, up to 300 years. We successfully identified an average of c. 3000 sequence variants (molecular operational taxonomic units -MOTUs) and obtained a taxonomically annotated dataset of 127 species, 104 genera, and 72 families. We could detect major changes in the terrestrial and aquatic vegetation of the Lower Lake Constance region by examining the cores. For example, alpha diversity decreased in the last c. 100 years, and this decrease was more pronounced in the terrestrial than in the aquatic plant community. Unlike the terrestrial plant community, the current aquatic plant-community composition partially resembles the community from before the 20th-century eutrophication phase of the lake. In addition to changes that can be attributed to anthropogenic impacts, we also captured the effect of DNA sedimentation on the terrestrial DNA diversity representation in sediments during periods of extensive flooding and potentially as a consequence of extremely cold winters. With sedDNA from Lower Lake Constance, we provide a new local dataset to investigate and extend the historical changes of different shoreline habitats and to identify characteristic and invasive plant species. Such highly resolved datasets spanning the past centuries can provide detailed information on human environmental history in densely populated regions that have undergone severe changes in the recent past.
Sedimentary ancient DNA of rotifers reveals responses to 200 years of climate change in two Kenyan crater lakes
2023-05-12, Kyalo‐Omamo, Margaret, Junginger, Annett, Krueger, Johanna, Epp, Laura S., Stoof‐Leichsenring, Kathleen R., Rohland, Stefanie, Trauth, Martin H., Tiedemann, Ralph
1. Sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) has proven to be a useful tool for palaeoenvironmental studies, but only a handful of studies exist so far for tropical regions. In this study we used sedaDNA to study the temporal succession of Brachionus spp. rotifer mitochondrial DNA haplotypes using two sediment cores from two climatically different alkaline-saline crater lakes from the Kenyan Rift Valley. 2. Data were retrieved from a sediment core (dating back to AD 1800) from Lake Kageinya, located in the remote, hot and hyper-arid Suguta Valley. sedaDNA was used to study the temporal succession of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of Brachionus spp. rotifers. The results were compared to previously published data from Lake Sonachi, a well-studied lake in the humid and colder mountainous region of Kenya near the town of Naivasha, now supported by a 210Pb age chronology. 3. Both records extend back before the onset of substantial anthropogenic impact in these regions. The results revealed that climate—rather than anthropogenic impact—was most strongly correlated with haplotype changes in both lakes. During prolonged dry periods (such as from AD 1910 to the late AD 1960s), certain haplotypes persisted. Sudden changes and the emergence of alter native haplotypes were observed when climate became more humid or during episodes of highly variable climate (before AD 1910 and from AD 1960s onwards). 4. Progressive changes in prevailing haplotypes during periods with variable climate could reflect local adaptation and/or be the result of immigration of new haplotypes after the eradication of previous populations during extreme environmental conditions (high temperatures, UV irradiation, pH and salinity). 5. The results indicate that, despite adverse chemical conditions, sedaDNA in tropical lake sediments is preserved for at least a few hundred years. Therefore, its analysis provides a useful complementary palaeoenvironmental proxy for palaeolimnological reconstructions and novel insights on changes in rotifer populations through time.
Investigating the effects of anthropogenic stressors on lake biota using sedimentary DNA
2022-12-05, Barouillet, Cécilia, Monchamp, Marie‐Eve, Bertilsson, Stefan, Brasell, Katie, Domaizon, Isabelle, Epp, Laura S., Ibrahim, Anan, Mejbel, Hebah, Nwosu, Ebuka Canisius, Capo, Eric
1. Analyses of sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) have increased exponentially over the last decade and hold great potential to study the effects of anthropogenic stressors on lake biota over time.
2. Herein, we synthesise the literature that has applied a sedDNA approach to track historical changes in lake biodiversity in response to anthropogenic impacts, with an emphasis on the past c. 200 years.
3. We identified the following research themes that are of particular relevance: (1) eutrophication and climate change as key drivers of limnetic communities; (2) increasing homogenisation of limnetic communities across large spatial scales; and (3) the dynamics and effects of invasive species as traced in lake sediment archives.
4. Altogether, this review highlights the potential of sedDNA to draw a more comprehensive picture of the response of lake biota to anthropogenic stressors, opening up new avenues in the field of paleoecology by unrevealing a hidden historical biodiversity, building new paleo-indicators, and reflecting either taxonomic or functional attributes.
5. Broadly, sedDNA analyses provide new perspectives that can inform ecosystem management, conservation, and restoration by offering an approach to measure ecological integrity and vulnerability, as well as ecosystem functioning.
Environmental DNA and metagenomics of terrestrial mammals as keystone taxa of recent and past ecosystems
2022-10, Seeber, Peter A., Epp, Laura S.
1. Terrestrial mammals shape their ecosystems, and mammalian community assemblages can be important indicators of ecosystem functioning and ecosystem changes over time. Numerous taxa of terrestrial mammals are currently threatened by habitat loss and face displacement to new geographical areas or systems to which they are less suited and where they may affect the original communities.
2. Understanding past ecosystem changes is important for predicting future responses of species assemblages to changes in their environments. Thus, ecological and evolutionary history, as well as adaptive capacity, are important predictors of future population viability. Genomic and metagenomic approaches using environmental or ancient DNA offer a wealth of information regarding genome-wide variation of changing communities or of taxonomic groups over time, which may help explain past changes and predict future responses of communities to changes in their environment; however, to date, such studies are relatively scarce.
3. We review studies on environmental DNA and environmental genomics of terrestrial mammals to assess the potential of such approaches regarding past, contemporary, and future terrestrial ecosystems, identify inherent challenges, and discuss potential applications. We elaborate on lessons to be learned from mammal genomics of past ecosystems and compare metabarcoding with general metagenetic and metagenomic techniques. We provide a comprehensive overview of current applications, challenges, and future potential of environmental DNA with regards to terrestrial mammals.
4. As current major challenges regarding mammalian eDNA we identify its scarcity and patchy distribution, along with the persistent necessity of genomic reference data. While the latter are steadily increasing, the former can only be tackled by explicitly mapping the environment to gain understanding of spatial eDNA distribution. Such understanding may facilitate informed choices of sample sites and substrates and, together with new sequencing techniques, this can allow mammalian eDNA to be maximally exploited as a source of biodiversity data.
Spatial distribution of sedimentary DNA is taxon-specific and linked to local occurrence at intra-lake scale
2023, Wang, Yi, Wessels, Martin, Winther Pedersen, Mikkel, Epp, Laura S.
Environmental archives, such as lake sediments, harbour DNA of past and present ecosystems. However, our understanding of the provenance, deposition and distribution of sedimentary DNA in lake systems is largely unknown, limiting the breadth of derived spatiotemporal inferences. By mapping the distribution of aquatic and terrestrial taxa in a large deep lake using metabarcoding, we characterise the spatial heterogeneity of sedimentary DNA and point to its potential driving factors. Taxa composition varies across geographic gradients in the lake, and spatial distribution of DNA is linked to the range and life mode of organisms. Exogenous taxa, such as alpine plants, have the most reliable detection near the mouth of the inflow. Our data reveal that sedimentary DNA is reflecting the mosaic distribution of organisms and organic remains in the environment, and a single location from lakes with watersheds across different elevations, biomes or other diversity boundaries does not capture the full dynamics in the surrounding area.
Postglacial evolution of Lake Constance: sedimentological and geochemical evidence from a deep-basin sediment core
2022-12, Schaller, Sebastian, Böttcher, Michael E., Buechi, Marius W., Epp, Laura S., Fabbri, Stefano C., Gribenski, Natacha, Harms, Ulrich, Krastel, Sebastian, Liebezeit, Alina, Schleheck, David
The modern, over 250-m-deep basin of Lake Constance represents the underfilled northern part of an over 400-m-deep, glacially overdeepened trough, which reaches well into the Alps at its southern end. The overdeepening was formed by repeated glacial advance-retreat cycles of the Rhine Glacier throughout the Middle to Late Pleistocene. A seismic survey of Lake Constance revealed a Quaternary sediment fill of more than 150 m thickness representing at least the last glacial cycle. The stratified sedimentary fill consists at the base of ice-contact deposits on top of the molasse bedrock, overlain by glaciolacustrine to lacustrine sediments. During the successful field test of a newly developed, mid-size coring system ("HIPERCORIG"), the longest core (HIBO19) ever taken in Lake Constance was retrieved with an overall length of 24 m. The sediments recovered consist of a nearly continuous succession of lacustrine silts and sands including more than 12 m of Late Glacial sediment at the base. 14 lithotypes were identified through petrophysical and geochemical analyses. In combination with a 14C- and OSL-based age-depth model, the core was divided into three main chronostratigraphic units. The basal age of ~ 13.7 ka BP dates the base of the succession back to the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, with overlying strata representing a complete and thick Younger-Dryas to Holocene succession. The sediments offer a high-resolution insight into the evolution of paleo-Lake Constance from a cold, postglacial to a more productive and warmer Holocene lake. The Late Glacial succession is dominated by massive, m-thick sand beds reflecting episodic sedimentation pulses. They are most likely linked to a subaquatic channel system originating in the river Seefelder Aach, which is, despite the Holocene drape, still apparent in today’s lake bathymetry. The overlying Holocene succession reveals a prominent, several cm-thick, double-turbiditic event layer representing the most distal impact of the Flimser Bergsturz, the largest known rockslide of the Alps that occurred over 100 km upstream the river Rhine at ~ 9.5 ka BP. Furthermore, lithologic variations in the Holocene succession document the varying sediment loads of the river Rhine and the endogenic production representing a multitude of environmental changes.
Evaluation of lake sedimentary ancient DNA metabarcoding to assess fungal biodiversity in Arctic paleoecosystems
2022-09, Seeber, Peter A., Hippel, Barbara, Kauserud, Hårvard, Löber, Ulrike, Stoof‐Leichsenring, Kathleen Rosmarie, Herzschuh, Ulrike, Epp, Laura S.
Fungi are crucial organisms in most ecosystems as they exert ecological key functions and are closely associated with land plants. Fungal community changes may, therefore, help reveal biodiversity changes in past ecosystems. Lake sediments contain the DNA of organisms in the catchment area, which allows reconstructing past biodiversity by using metabarcoding of ancient sedimentary DNA. We re-evaluated various commonly used metabarcoding primers, and we developed a novel PCR primer combination for fungal metabarcoding to produce a short amplicon, thus accounting for amplification bias due to the degradation of ancient DNA. In silico PCRs showed higher diversity using this new primer combination, compared with previously established fungal metabarcoding primers. We analyzed data from sediment cores from four artic and one boreal lake in Siberia. These cores had been stored for 2–22 years after coring; we, therefore, examined the degradation effects of ancient DNA and storage time-related bias affecting fungal communities. Amplicon lengths showed considerable variation within and between the major divisions of fungi, for example, amplicons of Basidiomycota were significantly longer than those of Mucoromycota; however, we observed no significant effect of sample age on amplicon length and GC content, suggesting the robustness of our results. We also found no indication of post-coring fungal growth during storage regarding the proportions of common mold taxa, which would otherwise distort conclusions on past fungal communities. Terrestrial soil fungi, including mycorrhizal fungi and saprotrophs, were predominant in all lakes, whereas typical aquatic taxa were only represented to a negligible extent, which supports the use of lake sedimentary ancient DNA for reconstructing terrestrial communities.