EGU General Assembly 2020
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Sedimentary DNA analyses decipher past and present aquatic plant diversity in Siberian and Tibetan lakes

Kathleen R. Stoof-Leichsenring1, Sisi Liu1, Weihan Jia1, Laura S. Epp1,2, Kai Li1, Luidmila A. Pestryakova3, and Ulrike Herzschuh1,4,5
Kathleen R. Stoof-Leichsenring et al.
  • 1Polar Terrestrial Environmental Systems, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, 14473, Germany
  • 2Limnological Institute, University of Konstanz, Konstanz 78464, Germany
  • 3Department for Geography and Biology, North-Eastern Federal University of Yakutsk, Yakutsk, 677000, Russia
  • 4Institute of Environmental Sciences and Geography, University of Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam, Germany

In recent decades Arctic and Alpine terrestrial ecosystems experienced an increase in aquatic plant biomass due to global warming, which motivates the investigation of aquatic plant diversity in High Arctic and Alpine regions, whereof so far only sparse data exist. Aquatic plants are important primary producers, food resource and supply habitat structure and thus have been widely used to infer the ecological status of modern lakes. Identification of past aquatic plants using macrofossil records only partly reflects the past community structure due to differences in spatial distribution, preservation and seed abundance of taxa. Thus, in our study we applied sedimentary DNA analyses to detect aquatic plant diversity in modern surface samples of over 200 lakes from various localities across Northern, Eastern and Central Siberia and the Tibetan plateau and selected lake core samples (covering Holocene timescales) from these regions. We applied metabarcoding of the trnL marker and used Illumina technology for NGS amplicon sequencing of PCR products and performed OBITools pipeline for bioinformatic analyses and taxonomic assignment. Firstly, our study aims to evaluate if the trnL marker typically used for detecting terrestrial plant diversity can deliver valuable information on the composition of aquatic plants. Secondly, we will use ordination analyses to test which environmental variables (e.g. lake water depth, pH and conductivity) shape the diversity of genetically detected aquatic plants. Thirdly, we will analyze past genetic aquatic plant diversity from Holocene lake cores and compare it with the modern genetic data set to reconstruct putative drivers of past diversity changes. So far, we identified free-floating (Nymphoides, Ceratophyllum), submerged (Potamogeton sp.), wetland taxa (Caltha, Carex, Juncus) and bryophytes (Sphagnum) in modern and past genetic data sets. Further statistical analyses are pending and will be finalized and presented at EGU.

How to cite: Stoof-Leichsenring, K. R., Liu, S., Jia, W., Epp, L. S., Li, K., Pestryakova, L. A., and Herzschuh, U.: Sedimentary DNA analyses decipher past and present aquatic plant diversity in Siberian and Tibetan lakes, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20209,, 2020

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  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-20209, Charline Giguet-Covex, 04 May 2020

    Amazing job, with a lot of data ! Just few questions:

    What are the variations in pH and depth in your lakes (those of modern samples)?

    July temperature: is it a lake surface temperature or air temperature? What are the min and max?

    Where did you took your samples (moderns and cores) in the lake? At the central, deepest part? How do you think that the coring location can impact your aquatic plant record, in terms of composition?

    Just a technical question: how many replicates did you perform by samples? Are they sampling, extraction or PCR replicates?

    many thanks !

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Kathleen Stoof-Leichsenring, 05 May 2020

      Dear Charline,

      We used two replicates and sequenced them separately for each lake, for data analyes we sum up the reads of teh replicates.  From larger lakes we had several  sampling locatilies in the lake (but yet did not check for intra-lake variability). I also guess that at the deepest point in the lake we have mixed signal of diversity of teh entirelake. Although I absolutely agree that sampling depth will influence the pattern of detected water plants.

      Thanks for your comments

  • CC2: Comment on EGU2020-20209, Charline Giguet-Covex, 05 May 2020

    Many thanks Kathleen for your replies. 

    I also worked on aquatic plants in lake Aiguebelette in France (max depth is 70m). And looking at the results in number of positive replicates in the deeper part of the lake, I found that we better detected the floating-leaf plants than helophytes. Submerged plants were in "intermediate" position. I interpreted that as the result of different transfer capacities according to the type of plants. I presented that in a poster last years at the Inqua. If you are interested, I can share with you the poster (I also have to publish these data but time is flying!).

    Good job for the session. It was amazing !

    • AC2: Reply to CC2, Kathleen Stoof-Leichsenring, 07 May 2020

      Dear Charline,

      Thanks for your reply. Yes, I am very interested to see your poster from last year (if you like you can send it via email), is it also methodologcially based on the g/h marker? With the data from our larger lakes we might be able to relate sample depth and macropyhte diversity, as we took samples from different depth in the lake. All in all we only have a very few floating species in our large data set.

      Kind regards


      • CC3: Reply to AC2, Charline Giguet-Covex, 12 May 2020

        Dear Kathleen, 

        thanks for your reply. Yes we also used the g/h primer for our analyses. I am going to send you the poster by email. 

        Yes, It would be very interesting to see if you have a relationship between the water depth and the macrophyte diversity in your lakes.