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Coastal marshes are dynamic ecosystems that provide essential ecosystem services and are impacted by a variety of natural and anthropogenic disturbances including flooding, fire, climate change, and urbanization. Coastal saltmarshes are sometimes managed through prescribed burning to enhance habitat value for wildlife and increase plant diversity, but this practice is uncommon in urbanized environments and the effects are unclear. In this study, we observed the effects of a 2017 wildfire on a Spartina saltmarsh and oak-hickory coastal forest over three years on Long Island Sound, New York. The objectives were to determine the impact of the fire on plant abundance, diversity, and invasive species. We studied the marshland and nearby coastal forest. It was concluded that the marsh habitat was more resilient than the forested habitat as its plant composition, abundance and diversity returned to that of the unburned marsh two years post fire. The wildfire caused large shifts in community composition, increasing abundance and diversity in the burned forest relative to the unburned forest, but it also facilitated an increase in non-native species. Because these systems provide countless ecosystem services, further research on the effect of wildfire and interactions with other disturbances is needed.
Cellulose biodegradation is based upon the action of different microbial enzymes such as β-1,4-endoglucanases, exoglucanases, and β-glucosidases working sequentially to convert cellulose to simple sugars like glucose. Different soils from the states of New Jersey and New York were analyzed by DNA extraction and PCR analysis for the presence of microbial cellulases genes belonging to glycoside hydrolases (GH) families 1, 5, 6, 7, and 48. Families GH1 and GH7 were detected in all samples while GH5, GH48, and GH6 genes were detected in 46%, 39%, and 31% of soils, respectively. Soils from NJ were found to have higher frequencies of GH48 genes while NY soils exhibited higher numbers of GH5 and GH6 genes. Cloned libraries were constructed from amplified DNA fragments of GH1 (bacteria and mold), GH7 (mold) and GH48 (bacteria) from NJ soils. GH1 genes were found to be mostly related to Actinobacteria species belonging to Nakamurella multipartita and different Streptomyces species The Proteobacteria species Massilia violaceinigra and Cystobacter fuscus showed the highest frequency of GH48 genes in soils. GH7 genes related to the Basidiomycota species Irpex lacteus were the most abundant fungal cellulases. The redundancy of GH genes present in different microbial phyla and species demonstrate the adaptation of microbial communities to degrade complex organic polymers such as cellulose in a synergism between different enzymes to sustain and maintain the continuous cycling of carbon in the environment.