Professional Affiliations and Activities
Member, American Geophysical Union (2013 - Present)
Education & Certifications
M.S., Stanford University, Environmental Earth System Science (2015)
B.S., Tulane University, Earth and Environmental Science w/ departmental honors, magna cum laude (2012)
Diverse Thaumarchaeota Dominate Subsurface Ammonia-oxidizing Communities in Semi-arid Floodplains in the Western United States.
Subsurface microbial communities mediate biogeochemical transformations that drive both local and ecosystem-level cycling of essential elements, including nitrogen. However, their study has been largely limited to the deep ocean, terrestrial mines, caves, and topsoils (< 30 cm). Here, we present regional insights into the microbial ecology of aerobic ammonia oxidation within the terrestrial subsurface of five semi-arid riparian sites spanning a 900-km N-S transect. We sampled sediments, profiled communities to depths of ≤ 10 m, and compared them to reveal trends regionally within and surrounding the Upper Colorado River Basin (CRB). The diversity and abundance of ammonia-oxidizing microbial communities were evaluated in the context of subsurface geochemistry by applying a combination of amoA (encoding ammonia monooxygenase subunit A) gene sequencing, quantitative PCR, and geochemical techniques. Analysis of 898 amoA sequences from ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB) revealed extensive ecosystem-scale diversity, including archaeal amoA sequences from four of the five major AOA lineages currently found worldwide as well as distinct AOA ecotypes associated with naturally reduced zones (NRZs) and hydrogeochemical zones (unsaturated, capillary fringe, and saturated). Overall, AOA outnumber AOB by 2- to 5000-fold over this regional scale, suggesting that AOA may play a prominent biogeochemical role in nitrification within terrestrial subsurface sediments.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00248-020-01534-5
View details for PubMedID 32535638
Redox Controls over the Stability of U(IV) in Floodplains of the Upper Colorado River Basin
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
2017; 51 (19): 10954–64
Aquifers in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) exhibit persistent uranium (U) groundwater contamination plumes originating from former ore processing operations. Previous observations at Rifle, Colorado, have shown that fine grained, sulfidic, organic-enriched sediments accumulate U in its reduced form, U(IV), which is less mobile than oxidized U(VI). These reduced sediment bodies can subsequently act as secondary sources, releasing U back to the aquifer. There is a need to understand if U(IV) accumulation in reduced sediments is a common process at contaminated sites basin-wide, to constrain accumulated U(IV) speciation, and to define the biogeochemical factors controlling its reactivity. We have investigated U(IV) accumulation in organic-enriched reduced sediments at three UCRB floodplains. Noncrystalline U(IV) is the dominant form of accumulated U, but crystalline U(IV) comprises up to ca. 30% of total U at some locations. Differing susceptibilities of these species to oxidative remobilization can explain this variability. Particle size, organic carbon content, and pore saturation, control the exposure of U(IV) to oxidants, moderating its oxidative release. Further, our data suggest that U(IV) can be mobilized under deeply reducing conditions, which may contribute to maintenance and seasonal variability of U in groundwater plumes in the UCRB.
View details for PubMedID 28873299
Convergence and contrast in the community structure of Bacteria, Fungi and Archaea along a tropical elevation-climate gradient.
FEMS microbiology ecology
2017; 93 (5)
Changes in species richness along climatological gradients have been instrumental in developing theories about the general drivers of biodiversity. Previous studies on microbial communities along climate gradients on mountainsides have revealed positive, negative and neutral richness trends. We examined changes in richness and composition of Fungi, Bacteria and Archaea in soil along a 50-1000 m elevation, 280-3280 mm/yr precipitation gradient in Hawai'i. Soil properties and their drivers are exceptionally well understood along this gradient. All three microbial groups responded strongly to the gradient, with community ordinations being similar along axes of environmental conditions (pH, rainfall) and resource availability (nitrogen, phosphorus). However, the form of the richness-climate relationship varied between Fungi (positive linear), Bacteria (unimodal) and Archaea (negative linear). These differences were related to resource-ecology and limiting conditions for each group, with fungal richness increasing most strongly with soil carbon, ammonia-oxidizing Archaea increasing with nitrogen mineralization rate, and Bacteria increasing with both carbon and pH. Reponses to the gradient became increasingly variable at finer taxonomic scales and within any taxonomic group most individual OTUs occurred in narrow climate-elevation ranges. These results show that microbial responses to climate gradients are heterogeneous due to complexity of underlying environmental changes and the diverse ecologies of microbial taxa.
View details for DOI 10.1093/femsec/fix045
View details for PubMedID 28402397
Understanding controls on redox processes in floodplain sediments of the Upper Colorado River Basin.
The Science of the total environment
Floodplains, heavily used for water supplies, housing, agriculture, mining, and industry, are important repositories of organic carbon, nutrients, and metal contaminants. The accumulation and release of these species is often mediated by redox processes. Understanding the physicochemical, hydrological, and biogeochemical controls on the distribution and variability of sediment redox conditions is therefore critical to developing conceptual and numerical models of contaminant transport within floodplains. The Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) is impacted by former uranium and vanadium ore processing, resulting in contamination by V, Cr, Mn, As, Se, Mo and U. Previous authors have suggested that sediment redox activity occurring within organic carbon-enriched bodies located below the groundwater level may be regionally important to the maintenance and release of contaminant inventories, particularly uranium. To help assess this hypothesis, vertical distributions of Fe and S redox states and sulfide mineralogy were assessed in sediment cores from three floodplain sites spanning a 250km transect of the central UCRB. The results of this study support the hypothesis that organic-enriched reduced sediments are important zones of biogeochemical activity within UCRB floodplains. We found that the presence of organic carbon, together with pore saturation, are the key requirements for maintaining reducing conditions, which were dominated by sulfate-reduction products. Sediment texture was found to be of secondary importance and to moderate the response of the system to external forcing, such as oxidant diffusion. Consequently, fine-grain sediments are relatively resistant to oxidation in comparison to coarser-grained sediments. Exposure to oxidants consumes precipitated sulfides, with a disproportionate loss of mackinawite (FeS) as compared to the more stable pyrite. The accompanying loss of redox buffering capacity creates the potential for release of sequestered radionuclides and metals. Because of their redox reactivity and stores of metals, C, and N, organic-enriched sediments are likely to be important to nutrient and contaminant mobility within UCRB floodplain aquifers.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.109
View details for PubMedID 28359569