Co-existence of methanogenesis and sulfate reduction with common substrates in sulfate-rich estuarine sediments

Michal Sela-Adler, Zeev Ronen, Barak Herut, Gilad Antler, Hanni Vigderovich, Werner Eckert, Orit Sivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

The competition between sulfate reducing bacteria and methanogens over common substrates has been proposed as a critical control for methane production. In this study, we examined the co-existence of methanogenesis and sulfate reduction with shared substrates over a large range of sulfate concentrations and rates of sulfate reduction in estuarine systems, where these processes are the key terminal sink for organic carbon. Incubation experiments were carried out with sediment samples from the sulfate-methane transition zone of the Yarqon (Israel) estuary with different substrates and inhibitors along a sulfate concentrations gradient from 1 to 10 mM. The results show that methanogenesis and sulfate reduction can co-exist while the microbes share substrates over the tested range of sulfate concentrations and at sulfate reduction rates up to 680 μmol L-1 day-1. Rates of methanogenesis were two orders of magnitude lower than rates of sulfate reduction in incubations with acetate and lactate, suggesting a higher affinity of sulfate reducing bacteria for the available substrates. The co-existence of both processes was also confirmed by the isotopic signatures of δ34S in the residual sulfate and that of d13C of methane and dissolved inorganic carbon. Copy numbers of dsrA and mcrA genes supported the dominance of sulfate reduction over methanogenesis, while showing also the ability of methanogens to grow under high sulfate concentration and in the presence of active sulfate reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number766
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume8
Issue numberMAY
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 May 2017

Keywords

  • Co-existence
  • Estuaries
  • Methanogenesis
  • Substrates
  • Sulfate reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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