Date of Original Version
Marine microbial communities can consume dissolved methane before it can escape to the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Seawater over the shallow Arctic shelf is characterized by excess methane compared to atmospheric equilibrium. This methane originates in sediment, permafrost, and hydrate. Particularly high concentrations are found beneath sea ice. We studied the structure and methane oxidation potential of the microbial communities from seawater collected close to Utqiagvik, Alaska, in April 2016. The in situ methane concentrations were 16.3 ± 7.2 nmol L−1 , approximately 4.8 times oversaturated relative to atmospheric equilibrium. The group of methaneoxidizing bacteria (MOB) in the natural seawater and incubated seawater was > 97 % dominated by Methylococcales (γ -Proteobacteria). Incubations of seawater under a range of methane concentrations led to loss of diversity in the bacterial community. The abundance of MOB was low with maximal fractions of 2.5 % at 200 times elevated methane concentration, while sequence reads of non-MOB methylotrophs were 4 times more abundant than MOB in most incubations. The abundances of MOB as well as non-MOB methylotroph sequences correlated tightly with the rate constant (kox) for methane oxidation, indicating that non-MOB methylotrophs might be coupled to MOB and involved in community methane oxidation. In sea ice, where methane concentrations of 82 ± 35.8 nmol kg−1 were found, Methylobacterium (α-Proteobacteria) was the dominant MOB with a relative abundance of 80 %. Total MOB abundances were very low in sea ice, with maximal fractions found at the ice– snow interface (0.1 %), while non-MOB methylotrophs were present in abundances similar to natural seawater communities. The dissimilarities in MOB taxa, methane concentrations, and stable isotope ratios between the sea ice and water column point toward different methane dynamics in the two environments.
Uhlig, C., Kirkpatrick, J.B., D'Hondt, S., Loose, B. Methane-oxidizing seawater microbial communities from an Arctic shelf (2018) Biogeosciences, 15(11), pp. 3311-3329. DOI: 10.5194/bg-15-3311-2018
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