Environmental control on anaerobic oxidation of methane in the gassy sediments of Eckernförde Bay (German Baltic)

Treude, Tina, Martin Krüger, Antje Boetius, Bo Barker Jørgensen

Limnol. Oceanogr., 50(6), 2005, 1771-1786 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.6.1771

ABSTRACT: We investigated the effect of seasonal environmental changes on the rate and distribution of anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in Eckernforde Bay sediments (German Baltic Sea) and identified organisms that are likely to be involved in the process. Surface sediments were sampled during September and March. Field rates of AOM and sulfate reduction (SR) were measured with radiotracer methods. Additional parameters were determined that potentially influence AOM, i.e., temperature, salinity, methane, sulfate, and chlorophyll a. Methanogenesis as well as potential rates of AOM and aerobic oxidation of methane were measured in vitro. AOM changed seasonally within the upper 20 cm of the sediment, with rates being between 1 and 14 nmol cm-3 d-1. Its distribution is suggested to be controlled by oxygen and sulfate penetration, temperature, as well as methane supply, leading to a shallow AOM zone during the warm productive season and to a slightly deeper AOM zone during the cold winter season. Rising methane bubbles apparently fed AOM above the sulfate-methane transition. Methanosarcinales-related anaerobic methanotrophs (ANME-2), identified with fluorescence in situ hybridization, is suggested to mediate AOM in Eckernforde Bay. These archaea are known also from other marine methane-rich locations. However, they were not directly associated with sulfate-reducing bacteria. AOM is possibly mediated solely by these archaea that show a mesophilic physiology according to the seasonal temperature changes in Eckernforde Bay.

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