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Marie-Amélie Blais


Ph.D. student

Department of Biology, Université Laval

Alexandre-Vachon Building
1045 avenue de la Médecine
Université Laval
Quebec, Canada
G1V 0A6







Projet de recherche

Microbiome gradients and implications for greenhouse gas cycling in a high latitude river: the Great Whale River, Nunavik, Canada

Watersheds of arctic and subarctic rivers are undergoing profound transformations in response to climate change and the associated impacts such as shifting hydrological patterns, permafrost thawing and changes in vegetation. One of the consequences of these landscape changes is that a large pool of organic carbon is becoming more available; however, its ultimate fate is uncertain. Rivers are likely to play a substantial role in transportation and transformation of carbon, from terrestrial to marine ecosystems, and in the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Microbial activities dominate these biogeochemical processes, but microbiome structure and function are still poorly understood in river ecosystems in general, and particularly at high latitudes.

This project aims to gain an improved understanding of carbon biogeochemistry of the Great Whale River (Nunavik), a large subarctic river discharging into southeastern Hudson Bay. The watershed of this river is characterized by heterogeneous landscapes, including sporadic permafrost areas in an advanced stage of thawing and erosion. We will apply flow cytometry to characterize the gradients in microbial cell concentrations along this river, including the application of a novel multimodal microfluidic system under development by Sentinel North. We will combine these measurements with molecular and pigment analysis of the microbiome, and measure the carbon dioxide concentrations and fluxes across physico-chemical gradients, including across the freshwater-saltwater transition zone.

The information gained during this project will yield valuable new insights into how higher latitude river ecosystems will respond to the ongoing transformation of their watersheds in the warming northern climate.

Location of the research site

Scientific communications

Blais, M.-A., Matveev, A., Lovejoy, C., Vincent, W.F., 2022. Size-fractionated microbiome structure in subarctic rivers and a coastal plume across DOC and salinity gradients. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12(760282). DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.760282.

Coelho, L.F., Blais, M.-A., Matveev, A., Keller-Costa, T., Vincent, W.F., Costa, R., Martins, Z., Canário, J., 2022. Contamination analysis of arctic ice samples as planetary field analogs and implications for future life-detection missions to Europa and Enceladus. Scientific Reports, 12, 12379. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-16370-5.

Coelho, L.F., Couceiro, J.F., Keller-Costa, T., Martinez Valente, S., Pereirinha Ramalho, T., Carneiro, J., Comte, J., Blais, M.-A., Vincent, W.F., Martins, Z., Canário, J., Costa, R., 2022. Structural shifts in sea ice prokaryotic communities across a salinity gradient in the subarctic. Science of the Total Environment, 827, 154286. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154286.

Nozais, C., Vincent, W.F., Belzile, C., Gosselin, M., Blais, M.-A., Canário, J., Archambault, P., 2021. The Great Whale River ecosystem: ecology of a subarctic river and its receiving waters in coastal Hudson Bay, Canada. Écoscience, 28(3-4): 327-346. DOI: 10.1080/11956860.2021.1926137.

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