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Influence of electron acceptor availability and microbial community structure on sedimentary methane oxidation in a boreal estuary

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages19
JournalBIOGEOCHEMISTRY
Volume148
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

Methane is produced microbially in vast quantities in sediments throughout the world’s oceans. However, anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) provides a near-quantitative sink for the produced methane and is primarily responsible for preventing methane emissions from the oceans to the atmosphere. AOM is a complex microbial process that involves several different microbial groups and metabolic pathways. The role of different electron acceptors in AOM has been studied for decades, yet large uncertainties remain, especially in terms of understanding the processes in natural settings. This study reports whole-core incubation methane oxidation rates along an estuarine gradient ranging from near fresh water to brackish conditions, and investigates the potential role of different electron acceptors in AOM. Microbial community structure involved in different methane processes is also studied in the same estuarine system using high throughput sequencing tools. Methane oxidation in the sediments was active in three distinct depth layers throughout the studied transect, with total oxidation rates increasing seawards. We find extensive evidence of non-sulphate AOM throughout the transect. The highest absolute AOM rates were observed below the sulphate-methane transition zone (SMTZ), strongly implicating the role of alternative electron acceptors (most likely iron and manganese oxides). However, oxidation rates were ultimately limited by methane availability. ANME-2a/b were the most abundant microbial phyla associated with AOM throughout the study sites, followed by ANME-2d in much lower abundances. Similarly to oxidation rates, highest abundances of microbial groups commonly associated with AOM were found well below the SMTZ, further reinforcing the importance of non-sulphate AOM in this system.

Keywords

  • 16S rRNA gene, Baltic sea, High throughput sequencing, Methanotrophy, Radiotracer incubation

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland