The Zoige Plateau is characterized by its high altitude, low latitude and low annual mean temperature of approximately 1°C and is a major source of atmospheric methane in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Methanotrophs play an important role in the global cycling of CH4, but the diversity, identity and activity of methanotrophs in this region are poorly characterized. Soils were collected from hummocks and hollows in the Riganqiao peatland and the methanotroph community was analysed by qPCR and sequencing methane monooxygenase (pmoA and mmoX) genes. The pmoA genes ranged between 107 and 108 copies g−1 fresh soil, with a somewhat greater abundance in hummocks than hollows. The pmoA genes were analysed by amplicon pyrosequencing and the mmoX genes by cloning and sequencing. Methylocystis species were found to be the most abundant methanotrophs, but numerous clades were present including three novel pmoA and three novel mmoX clusters. There were differences between the methanotroph communities in the hummocks and hollows, with the most significant being an increased abundance of uncultivated type Ib methanotrophs in the hollows. The results indicate that aerobic methanotrophs are abundant in Riganqiao peatland and include previously undetected clades in this geographically isolated and distinctive environment.
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