Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Comparing Microbial Community Structure and Processes Between Restored and Natural Saltmarsh Ecosystems in the Venice Lagoon (#86)

Anjali Gopakumar 1 2 , Md Masum Billah 3 , Marco Bonato 4 , Fabio De Pascale 4 , Alessandro Vezzi 4 , Katherine A Dafforn 2 , Laura Airoldi 1 4
  1. Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Ravenna - 48123, Italy
  2. School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW - 2109, Australia
  3. Inter-Departmental Research Centre for Environmental Science-CIRSA, University of Bologna, Ravenna - 48123, Italy
  4. Department of Biology, Chioggia Hydrobiological Station Umberto D’Ancona, University of Padova, Chioggia - 30015, Italy

Coastal saltmarsh ecosystems are increasingly degraded by anthropogenic activities. Efforts to restore these important ecosystems are growing, but our knowledge about the potential benefits from restoration is limited. Microbial communities are linked to numerous ecosystem functions and services; thus, assessing restoration outcomes at the microbial scale provide the additional advantage of understanding if restoration has restored ecosystem function as well as biodiversity.

In this study, the microbial community structure and diversity were compared between natural and restored saltmarshes, while also assessing potential differences due to the environmental context (habitat type, restoration type, tidal levels, vegetation). Sediment, macrobenthos and vegetation were sampled from selected natural and restored salt marshes in the Venice lagoon, between May-June 2021. Microbial communities were analysed by 16S sequencing of the V4 and V5 hypervariable regions of the ribosomal RNA subunit. Sediment was also chemically analysed to quantify chlorophyll, total organic carbon, total nitrogen, total sulphur, and grain size in each sample. Preliminary results suggest an improved difference in microbial diversity between habitats rather than natural/restored salt marshes. Understanding if and how certain restoration practices support biodiversity and functioning in these important ecosystems will enable us to develop improved approaches and better support targeted restoration goals.