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The active methanotrophic community in hydromorphic soils changes in response to changing methane concentration


  • Present addresses: Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes Micro-organismes, INRA/CNRS, BP 52627, Chemin de Borde Rouge, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France; Lehrstuhl für Ökologische Mikrobiologie, BayCEER, Universität Bayreuth, Dr-Hans-Frisch-Str. 1-3, 95548 Bayreuth, Germany; §Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wairakei Research Station, Private Bag 2000, Taupo, New Zealand.

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Methanotrophic communities were studied in several periodically water-saturated gleyic soils. When sampled, each soil had an oxic upper layer and consumed methane from the atmosphere (at 1.75 ppmv). In most gleyic soils the Km(app) values for methane were between 70 and 800 ppmv. These are higher than most values observed in dry upland soils, but lower than those measured in wetlands. Based on cultivation-independent retrieval of the pmoA-gene and quantification of partial pmoA gene sequences, type II (Alphaproteobacteria) methanotrophs of the genus Methylocystis spp. were abundant (> 107pmoA target molecules per gram of dry soil). Type I (Gammaproteobacteria) methanotrophs related to the genera Methylobacter and Methylocaldum/Methylococcus were detected in some soils. Six pmoA sequence types not closely related to sequences from cultivated methanotrophs were detected as well, indicating that diverse uncultivated methanotrophs were present. Three Gleysols were incubated under different mixing ratios of 13C-labelled methane to examine 13C incorporation into phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs). Phospholipid fatty acids typical of type II methanotrophs, 16:0 and 18:1ω7c, were labelled with 13C in all soils after incubation under an atmosphere containing 30 ppmv of methane. Incubation under 500 ppmv of methane resulted in labelling of additional PLFAs besides 16:0 and 18:1ω7c, suggesting that the composition of the active methanotrophic community changed in response to increased methane supply. In two soils, 16:1 PLFAs typical of type I methanotrophs were strongly labelled after incubation under the high methane mixing ratio only. Type II methanotrophs are most likely responsible for atmospheric methane uptake in these soils, while type I methanotrophs become active when methane is produced in the soil.