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    Supplementary file for "Metagenomic assembled genomes indicated the potential application of hypersaline microbiome for plant growth promotion and stress alleviation in salinized soils"</p

    On the origin and processes controlling the elemental and isotopic composition of carbonates in hypersaline Andean lakes

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    H.J. and J.W.B. Rae acknowledge funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement 805246).The Altiplano-Puna Plateau of the Central Andes hosts numerous lakes, playa-lakes, and salars with a great diversity and abundance of carbonates forming under extreme climatic, hydrologic, and environmental conditions. To unravel the underlying processes controlling the formation of carbonates and their geochemical signatures in hypersaline systems, we investigated coupled brine-carbonate samples in a high-altitude Andean lake using a wide suite of petrographic (SEM, XRD) and geochemical tools (δ2H, δ18O, δ13C, δ11B, major and minor ion composition, aqueous modelling). Our findings show that the inflow of hydrothermal springs in combination with strong CO2 degassing and evaporation plays an important role in creating a spatial diversity of hydro-chemical sub-environments allowing different types of microbialites (microbial mounds and mats), travertines, and fine-grained calcite minerals to form. Carbonate precipitation occurs in hot springs triggered by a shift in carbonate equilibrium by hydrothermal CO2 degassing and microbially-driven elevation of local pH at crystallisation. In lakes, carbonate precipitation is induced by evaporative supersaturation, with contributions from CO2 degassing and microbiological processes. Lake carbonates largely record the evaporitic enrichment (hence salinity) of the parent water which can be traced by Na, Li, B, and δ18O, although other factors (such as e.g., high precipitation rates, mixing with thermal waters, groundwater, or precipitation) also affect their signatures. This study is of significance to those dealing with the fractionation of oxygen, carbon, and boron isotopes and partitioning of elements in natural brine-carbonate environments. Furthermore, these findings contribute to the advancement in proxy development for these depositional environments.Peer reviewe

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    Supplementary sheet of " Metagenomic assembled genomes indicated the potential application of hypersaline microbiome for plant growth promotion and stress alleviation in salinized soils"</p

    The contamination of in situ archaeological remains: a pilot analysis of microplastics in sediment samples using μFTIR

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    Background. Microplastics (MPs) are found in all environments: aquatic, airborne, and terrestrial. While their presence is not disputed, their potential impacts are not yet known.Objective. To undertake a pilot analysis of MP contamination in archaeological sediment samples, taken in the late 1980s from two archaeological excavation sites in the historic city of York (UK) as well as contemporary sources close to the same sites, with respect to the presence (if any), levels, and characteristics of any particles identified. Methods. This study analysed pre-digested sediment samples as follows: n=3 from Queens Hotel (QH) site and n=3 Wellington Row (WR) contemporary core-source, and n=3 QH and n=3 WR archival-source samples, alongside procedural controls (n=8), using μFTIR spectroscopy (size limitation of 5 μm) to detect and characterise any MPs present. Results. In total, 66 MP particles consisting of 16 MP polymer types were identified across both site and contemporary/archived samples. The highest levels of MP particles, 20588 MP/kg was identified at the lowest sample depth (~7.35 m) at archived WR, 5910 MP/kg in the mid depth layer (~5.85 m) at the contemporary QH site. Of the MPs detected in sediment samples overall, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polybutylene sulfone (PSU), and polypropylene: polyethylene (PE:PP) copolymer polymer types were most abundant; mainly fragmented and irregular shape. Conclusions. This is believed to be the first evidence of MP contamination in archaeological sediment (or soil) samples with polymers and size ranges measured and while accounting for procedural blanks. These results support the phenomenon of transport of MPs within archaeological stratigraphy, and the characterisation of types, shapes and size ranges identified therein. Through contamination, MPs may compromise the scientific value of archaeological deposits, and environmental proxies suspended within significant sediment, and as such represent a new consideration in the dynamism of, as well as arguments for preserving, archaeological deposits in situ


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    Salt production is a sustainable process based on the use of renewable resources such as wind, sun and seawater. Through fractional precipitation, induced by wind and sun, almost pure sodium chloride precipitates in crystallising basins. This process involves the use of simple technologies, modified over millennia only by the introduction of mechanical means. Thus, sea salt production can be considered a technologically mature production process. However, it is still possible to intervene by adding value through innovation in areas related to the traceability of the product and the exploitation of the enormous potential arising from the unique biodiversity present in these environments. The innovation envisaged is based on the use of DNA purification technologies, next-generation sequencing and in vitro evaluation. Using advanced molecular biology techniques, it is in fact possible to characterise the population of Bacteria and Archaeobacteria included in the salt crystals during their formation process and to define their geographical origin. Furthermore, with extraction techniques, culture characterisation and in vitro evaluation on cells, it is possible to exploit bioactive compounds extracted from halophilic microorganisms for applications in nutraceutics, pharmaceutics and cosmeceutics. Thus, despite the technological maturity of the main production process, it is possible to intervene with a high degree of innovation to help increase its overall profitability. The characterisation of the microbiome present in salt crystals is crucial for the traceability and safety of the resource. The testing of bioactive extracts, originating from saline waters, in cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical applications will enable products derived from these applications to benefit from the related traceability, safety and human health results, thus bringing significant benefits to their eco-sustainable image.The aims of this research fall within the principles of the National Strategy for Intelligent Specialisation (SNSI) approved by the European Commission, which promotes and subsidises such scientific approaches and objectives. Already in the past, the European Community has granted the Protected Geographical Indication for Trapani's sea salt, in the wake of which other European countries have applied for it. Sea salt is produced in coastal salt works, which have generally been transformed into protected environments. For this reason, the certificate of origin is associated with an incisive image of eco-sustainability, which derives from the place of production being represented by peculiar natural environments. The close relations between the various scientific themes make the aforementioned PhD project innovative, applied, connected to human activities and consumption, consistent with national strategies and in line with the European objectives.The purpose of the PhD thesis contributes to the application of current Blue Economy strategies in accordance with the "Blue Growth" and the Horizon programme, thus enabling the development of future prospects for improving the circular economy and marine production chain to obtain compounds that are useful for nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical applications

    Trends and variability in methane concentrations over the Southeastern Arabian Peninsula

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    Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas with an important contribution to global warming. While national and international efforts have been put in place to reduce methane emissions, little is known about its variability, especially in hotspot regions where natural and anthropogenic emissions are compounded. In this study, the current state of CH4 concentrations and their trends over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and surrounding region are investigated with satellite and reanalysis data. CH4 concentrations have increased over the last 5 years, with a trend in the satellite-derived column values (XCH4) of about 9 ppb/year. A clear annual cycle is detected in XCH4, with an amplitude of up to 75 ppb and peak values in the warmer months. The largest concentrations are found in coastal sites, where sabkhas and landfills are present, and along the Al Hajar mountains, where agricultural activities and microhabitats that may host CH4-producing microbes occur and where advection by the background flow is likely an important contributor. The reanalysis data shows a good agreement with the satellite-derived estimates in terms of the spatial pattern, but the magnitudes are smaller by up to 50 ppb, due to deficiencies in the data assimilated. Surface CH4 concentrations in the reanalysis data account for more than 50% of the corresponding XCH4 values, and exhibit a seasonal cycle with the opposite phase due to uncertainties in the emissions inventory. Our findings provide an overview of the state of CH4 concentration in the UAE and surrounding region, and may aid local authorities to propose the appropriate emission reduction strategies in order to meet the proposed net-zero greenhouse gas emission target by 2050. This study highlights the need for the establishment in the Arabian Peninsula region of a ground-based observational network for greenhouse gas concentrations which is still lacking to date