Spruce and peatland response under climatic and environmental change

Instrumentation along the SPRUCE field site

Global Climate Chance

Peatlands research in the Kostka lab is being conducted at the Marcell Experimental Forest (MEF) in northern Minnesota where Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the USDA Forest Service have developed a climate manipulation field site known as Spruce and Peatland Response Under Climatic and Environmental Change (SPRUCE). In the Minnesota peatland, the SPRUCE project constructed 10 giant, 12 x 8 m enclosures, to simulate climate change. Inside the chambers, the peat is heated to between 0 to +9 oC above ambient temperature, and carbon dioxide levels will be elevated in half of the chambers to twice current atmospheric levels. It is hypothesized that climate change drivers, warming and carbon dioxide enrichment will result in: 1) An increase in the growth and transpiration of vascular plants and a lowering of the water table, 2) Instability of buried peat carbon, due in part to plant feedbacks, resulting in increased production of labile carbon substrates, 3) Selection of microbial groups, changes in the pathways of organic matter (OM) mineralization and the ratios of greenhouse gases (GHGs; CO2, CH4) emitted, and 4) Increased mineralization, respiration, export of ancient peat carbon, microbial respiration and GHG production.

The Kostka Lab works with the SPRUCE team to quantify changes in microbial communities brought on by climate change drivers. In particular, next generation gene sequencing and omics approaches are employed to investigate the microbial groups that mediate organic matter degradation and the release of greenhouse gases.

More information on the SPRUCE project can be found at the SPRUCE homepage

Prototype climate manipulation enclosure



From the Kostka Lab:

From the Glass Lab:

    • Melissa Warren



Recent Publications

Lin, X., K. M. Handley, J. A. Gilbert, J. E. Kostka. 2015. Metabolic potential of fatty acid oxidation and anaerobic respiration by abundant members of Thaumarchaeota and Thermoplasmata in deep anoxic peat. ISME Journal (in press)

Lin, X., M. M. Tfaily, J. M. Steinweg, P. Chanton, K. Esson, Z. K. Yang, J. P. Chanton, W. Cooper, C. W. Schadt, J. E. Kostka. 2014a. Microbial community stratification linked to utilization of carbohydrates and phosphorus limitation in a boreal peatland at Marcell Experimental Forest, Minnesota, USA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 3518-3530

Lin, X., M. M. Tfaily, S. Green, J. M. Steinweg, P. Chanton, A. Imvittaya, J. P. Chanton, W. Cooper, C. Schadt, J. E. Kostka. 2014b. Microbial metabolic potential for carbon degradation and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) acquisition in an ombrotrophic peatland. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 3531-3540

Tfaily, M.M., W. T. Cooper, J. Kostka, P. R. Chanton, C. W. Schadt, P. J. Hanson, C. M. Iversen, and J. P. Chanton. 2014. Organic Matter Transformation in the Peat Column at Marcell Experimental Forest: Humification and Vertical Stratification. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 119: 661-675

Lin, X., S. Green, M. M. Tfaily, O. Prakash, K. T. Konstantinidis, J. E. Corbett, J. P. Chanton, W. T. Cooper, and J. E. Kostka. 2012. Microbial community structure and activity linked to contrasting biogeochemical gradients in bog and fen environments of the Glacial Lake Agassiz Peatland. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78: 7023-7031