Microbial methanogenesis in the sulfate-reducing zone in sediments from Eckernförde Bay, SW Baltic Sea
Johanna Maltby1,a, Lea Steinle2,1, Carolin R. Löscher3,1, Hermann W. Bange1, Martin A. Fischer4, Mark Schmidt1, and Tina Treude1,51GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Department of Marine Biogeochemistry, 24148 Kiel, Germany 2Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland 3Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark 4Institute of Microbiology, Christian-Albrecht-University Kiel, 24118 Kiel, Germany 5Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California 90095-1567, USA apresent address: Natural Sciences Department, Saint Joseph’s College, Standish, Maine 04084, USA
Received: 04 Feb 2017 – Accepted for review: 17 Feb 2017 – Discussion started: 07 Mar 2017
Abstract. The presence of surface methanogenesis, located within the sulfate-reducing zone (0–30 centimeters below seafloor, cmbsf), was investigated in sediments of the seasonally hypoxic Eckernförde Bay, southwestern Baltic Sea. Water column parameters like oxygen, temperature and salinity together with porewater geochemistry and benthic methanogenesis rates were determined in the sampling area ''Boknis Eck'' quarterly from March 2013 to September 2014, to investigate the effect of seasonal environmental changes on the rate and distribution of surface methanogenesis and to estimate its potential contribution to benthic methane emissions. The metabolic pathway of methanogenesis in the presence or absence of sulfate reducers and after the addition of a non-competitive substrate was studied in four experimental setups: 1) unaltered sediment batch incubations (net methanogenesis), 2) 14C-bicarbonate labeling experiments (hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis), 3) manipulated experiments with addition of either molybdate (sulfate reducer inhibitor), 2-bromoethane-sulfonate (methanogen inhibitor), or methanol (non-competitive substrate, potential methanogenesis), 4) addition of 13C-labeled methanol (potential methylotrophic methanogenesis). After incubation with methanol in the manipulated experiments, molecular analyses were conducted to identify key functional methanogenic groups. Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis in sediments below the sulfate-reducing zone (> 30 cmbsf) was determined by 14C-bicarbonate radiotracer incubation in samples collected in September 2013. Surface methanogenesis changed seasonally in the upper 30 cmbsf with rates increasing from March (0.2 nmol cm−3 d−1) to November (1.3 nmol cm−3 d−1) 2013 and March (0.2 nmol cm−3 d−1) to September (0.4 nmol cm−3 d−1) 2014, respectively. Its magnitude and distribution appeared to be controlled by organic matter availability, C / N, temperature, and oxygen in the water column, revealing higher rates in warm, stratified, hypoxic seasons (September/November) compared to colder, oxygenated seasons (March/June) of each year. The majority of surface methanogenesis was likely driven by the usage of non-competitive substrates (e.g., methanol and methylated compounds), to avoid competition with sulfate reducers, as it was indicated by the 1000–3000-fold increase in potential methanogenesis activity observed after methanol addition. Accordingly, competitive hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis increased in the sediment only below the depth of sulfate penetration (> 30 cmbsf). Members of the family Methanosarcinaceae, which are known for methylotrophic methanogenesis, were detected by PCR using Methanosarcinaceae-specific primers and are likely to be responsible for the observed surface methanogenesis. The present study indicated that surface methanogenesis makes an important contribute to the benthic methane budget of Eckernförde Bay sediments as it could directly feed into methane oxidation above the sulfate-methane transition zone.
Maltby, J., Steinle, L., Löscher, C. R., Bange, H. W., Fischer, M. A., Schmidt, M., and Treude, T.: Microbial methanogenesis in the sulfate-reducing zone in sediments from Eckernförde Bay, SW Baltic Sea, Biogeosciences Discuss., doi:10.5194/bg-2017-36, in review, 2017.