Predominance of methanogens over methanotrophs in rewetted fens characterized by high methane emissions

Xi Wen, Viktoria Unger (Corresponding author), Gerald Jurasinski, Franziska Koebsch, Fabian Horn, Gregor Rehder, Torsten Sachs, Dominik Zak, Gunnar Lischeid, Klaus-Holger Knorr, Michael E. Böttcher, Matthias Winkel, P.L.E. Bodelier, Susanne Liebner

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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The rewetting of drained peatlands alters peat geochemistry and often leads to sustained elevated methane emission. Although this methane is produced entirely by microbial activity, the distribution and abundance of methane-cycling microbes in rewetted peatlands, especially in fens, is rarely described. In this study, we compare the community composition and abundance of methane-cycling microbes in relation to peat porewater geochemistry in two rewetted fens in northeastern Germany, a coastal brackish fen and a freshwater riparian fen, with known high methane fluxes. We utilized 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) on 16S rRNA, mcrA, and pmoA genes to determine microbial community composition and the abundance of total bacteria, methanogens, and methanotrophs. Electrical conductivity (EC) was more than 3 times higher in the coastal fen than in the riparian fen, averaging 5.3 and 1.5mS cm−1, respectively. Porewater concentrations of terminal electron acceptors (TEAs) varied within and among the fens. This was also reflected in similarly high intra- and inter-site variations of microbial community composition. Despite these differences in environmental conditions and electron acceptor availability, we found a low abundance of methanotrophs and a high abundance of methanogens, represented in particular by Methanosaetaceae, in both fens. This suggests that rapid (re)establishment of methanogens and slow (re)establishment of methanotrophs contributes to prolonged increased methane emissions following rewetting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6519-6536
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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