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A multi-omics based ecological analysis of coastal marine sediments from Gladstone, in Australia's Central Queensland, and Heron Island, a nearby fringing platform reef

Beale, D.J., Crosswell, J., Karpe, A.V., Ahmed, W., Williams, M., Morrison, P.D., Metcalfe, S., Staley, C., Sadowsky, M.J., Palombo, E.A., Steven, A.D.L.
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.609 pp. 842-853
bacterial communities, carbon, cholesterol, copper, detection limit, ecosystems, fatty acids, gamma-Proteobacteria, guidelines, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, irradiation, islands, marine sediments, metabolomics, nickel, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, reefs, Queensland
The impact of anthropogenic factors arising from point and non-point pollution sources at a multi commodity marine port and its surrounding ecosystems were studied using sediment samples collected from a number of onshore (Gladstone Harbour and Facing Island) and offshore (Heron Island and Fitzroy Reefs) sites in Australia's Central Queensland. Sediment samples were analyzed for trace metals, organic carbon, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), emerging chemicals of concern (ECC) and sterols. Similarly, the biological and biochemical interaction between the reef and its environment was analyzed by the multi-omic tools of next-generation sequencing characterization of the bacterial community and microbial community metabolic profiling. Overall, the trace elements were observed at the lower end of the Australian environmental guideline values at the offshore sites, while higher values were observed for the onshore locations Nickel and copper were observed above the high trigger value threshold at the onshore sites. The levels of PAH were below limits of detection across all sites. However, some of the ECC and sterols were observed at higher concentrations at both onshore and offshore locations, notably, the cholesterol family sterols and 17α-ethynylestradiol. Multi-omic analyses also indicated possible thermal and photo irradiation stressors on the bacterial communities at all the tested sites. The observed populations of γ-proteobacteria were found in combination with an increased pool of fatty acids that indicate fatty acid synthesis and utilisation of the intermediates of the shikimate pathways. This study demonstrates the value of applying a multi-omics approach for ecological assessments, in which a more detailed assessment of physical and chemical contaminants and their impact on the community bacterial biome is obtained.