Phylogenetic comparison of the methanogenic communities from an acidic, oligotrophic fen and an anaerobic digester treating municipal wastewater sludge.
ABSTRACT: Methanogens play a critical role in the decomposition of organics under anaerobic conditions. The methanogenic consortia in saturated wetland soils are often subjected to large temperature fluctuations and acidic conditions, imposing a selective pressure for psychro- and acidotolerant community members; however, methanogenic communities in engineered digesters are frequently maintained within a narrow range of mesophilic and circumneutral conditions to retain system stability. To investigate the hypothesis that these two disparate environments have distinct methanogenic communities, the methanogens in an oligotrophic acidic fen and a mesophilic anaerobic digester treating municipal wastewater sludge were characterized by creating clone libraries for the 16S rRNA and methyl coenzyme M reductase alpha subunit (mcrA) genes. A quantitative framework was developed to assess the differences between these two communities by calculating the average sequence similarity for 16S rRNA genes and mcrA within a genus and family using sequences of isolated and characterized methanogens within the approved methanogen taxonomy. The average sequence similarities for 16S rRNA genes within a genus and family were 96.0 and 93.5%, respectively, and the average sequence similarities for mcrA within a genus and family were 88.9 and 79%, respectively. The clone libraries of the bog and digester environments showed no overlap at the species level and almost no overlap at the family level. Both libraries were dominated by clones related to uncultured methanogen groups within the Methanomicrobiales, although members of the Methanosarcinales and Methanobacteriales were also found in both libraries. Diversity indices for the 16S rRNA gene library of the bog and both mcrA libraries were similar, but these indices indicated much lower diversity in the 16S digester library than in the other three libraries.
Project description:Agricultural activities have produced well-documented changes in the Florida Everglades, including establishment of a gradient in phosphorus concentrations in Water Conservation Area 2A (WCA-2A) of the northern Everglades. An effect of increased phosphorus concentrations is increased methanogenesis in the eutrophic regions compared to the oligotrophic regions of WCA-2A. The goal of this study was to identify relationships between eutrophication and composition and activity of methanogenic assemblages in WCA-2A soils. Distributions of two genes associated with methanogens were characterized in soils taken from WCA-2A: the archaeal 16S rRNA gene and the methyl coenzyme M reductase gene. The richness of methanogen phylotypes was greater in eutrophic than in oligotrophic sites, and sequences related to previously cultivated and uncultivated methanogens were found. A preferential selection for the order Methanomicrobiales was observed in mcrA clone libraries, suggesting primer bias for this group. A greater diversity within the Methanomicrobiales was observed in mcrA clone libraries than in 16S rRNA gene libraries. 16S rRNA phylogenetic analyses revealed a dominance of clones related to Methanosaeta spp., an acetoclastic methanogen dominant in environments with low acetate concentrations. A significant number of clones were related to Methanomicrobiales, an order characterized by species utilizing hydrogen and formate as methanogenic substrates. No representatives of the orders Methanobacteriales and Methanococcales were found in any 16S rRNA clone library, although some Methanobacteriales were found in mcrA libraries. Hydrogenotrophs are the dominant methanogens in WCA-2A, and acetoclastic methanogen genotypes that proliferate in low acetate concentrations outnumber those that typically dominate in higher acetate concentrations.
Project description:Methanogenic inhibitors are often used to study methanogenesis in complex microbial communities or inhibit methanogens in the gastrointestinal tract of livestock. However, the resulting structural and functional changes in archaeal and bacterial communities are poorly understood. We characterized microbial community structure and activity in mesocosms seeded with cow dung and municipal wastewater treatment plant anaerobic digester sludge after exposure to two methanogenic inhibitors, 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BES) and propynoic acid (PA). Methane production was reduced by 89% (0.5 mmol/L BES), 100% (10 mmol/LBES), 24% (0.1 mmol/LPA), and 95% (10 mmol/LPA). Using modified primers targeting the methyl-coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) gene, changes in mcrA gene expression were found to correspond with changes in methane production and the relative activity of methanogens. Methanogenic activity was determined by the relative abundance of methanogen 16S rRNA cDNA as a percentage of the total community 16S rRNA cDNA. Overall, methanogenic activity was lower when mesocosms were exposed to higher concentrations of both inhibitors, and aceticlastic methanogens were inhibited to a greater extent than hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Syntrophic bacterial activity, measured by 16S rRNA cDNA, was also reduced following exposure to both inhibitors, but the overall structure of the active bacterial community was not significantly affected.
Project description:Methanogenic archaea play a key role in biogas-producing anaerobic digestion and yet remain poorly taxonomically characterized. This is in part due to the limitations of low-throughput Sanger sequencing of a single (16S rRNA) gene, which in the past may have undersampled methanogen diversity. In this study, archaeal communities from three sludge digesters in Hong Kong and one wastewater digester in China were examined using high-throughput pyrosequencing of the methyl coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) and 16S rRNA genes. Methanobacteriales, Methanomicrobiales, and Methanosarcinales were detected in each digester, indicating that both hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenesis was occurring. Two sludge digesters had similar community structures, likely due to their similar design and feedstock. Taxonomic classification of the mcrA genes suggested that these digesters were dominated by acetoclastic methanogens, particularly Methanosarcinales, while the other digesters were dominated by hydrogenotrophic Methanomicrobiales. The proposed euryarchaeotal order Methanomassiliicoccales and the uncultured WSA2 group were detected with the 16S rRNA gene, and potential mcrA genes for these groups were identified. 16S rRNA gene sequencing also recovered several crenarchaeotal groups potentially involved in the initial anaerobic digestion processes. Overall, the two genes produced different taxonomic profiles for the digesters, while greater methanogen richness was detected using the mcrA gene, supporting the use of this functional gene as a complement to the 16S rRNA gene to better assess methanogen diversity. A significant positive correlation was detected between methane production and the abundance of mcrA transcripts in digesters treating sludge and wastewater samples, supporting the mcrA gene as a biomarker for methane yield.
Project description:The methanogenic community in hydrothermally active sediments of Guaymas Basin (Gulf of California, Mexico) was analyzed by PCR amplification, cloning, and sequencing of methyl coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) and 16S rRNA genes. Members of the Methanomicrobiales and Methanosarcinales dominated the mcrA and 16S rRNA clone libraries from the upper 15 cm of the sediments. Within the H2/CO2- and formate-utilizing family Methanomicrobiales, two mcrA and 16S rRNA lineages were closely affiliated with cultured species of the genera Methanoculleus and Methanocorpusculum. The most frequently recovered mcrA PCR amplicons within the Methanomicrobiales did not branch with any cultured genera. Within the nutritionally versatile family Methanosarcinales, one 16S rRNA amplicon and most of the mcrA PCR amplicons were affiliated with the obligately acetate utilizing species Methanosaeta concilii. The mcrA clone libraries also included phylotypes related to the methyl-disproportionating genus Methanococcoides. However, two mcrA and two 16S rRNA lineages within the Methanosarcinales were unrelated to any cultured genus. Overall, the clone libraries indicate a diversified methanogen community that uses H2/CO2, formate, acetate, and methylated substrates. Phylogenetic affiliations of mcrA and 16S rRNA clones with thermophilic and nonthermophilic cultured isolates indicate a mixed mesophilic and thermophilic methanogen community in the surficial Guaymas sediments.
Project description:Comparative analysis of methanogen compositions in the feces of horse and pony was carried out by constructing the α -subunit of methyl coenzyme-M reductase (mcrA) gene and 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S rRNA) clone libraries. The mcrA clone library analysis indicated that Methanomicrobiales was predominant in both horse and pony. Furthermore, most of the clones of the 16S rRNA gene library showed that Methanomicrobiales was also predominant in horse and pony, but the LIBSHUFF analysis showed that the horse and pony libraries were significantly different (P < 0.05). Most of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) showed low similarity to the identified methanogens in both the mcrA and the 16S rRNA clone libraries. The results suggest that horse and pony harbor unidentified and novel methanogens in their hindgut. The methanogen population was higher in horse than in pony; however, the anaerobic fungal population was similar in horse and pony. The methanogen diversity was different between two breeds of Equus caballus.
Project description:The composition of the methanogenic archaeal community in the foregut contents of Tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) was studied using 16S rRNA and methyl coenzyme reductase subunit A (mcrA) gene clone libraries. Methanogens belonging to the Methanobacteriales and a well-supported cluster of uncultivated archaeon sequences previously observed in the ovine and bovine rumens were found. Methanogen densities ranged from 7.0 x 10(5) and 3.9 x 10(6) cells per gram of wet weight.
Project description:Biologically produced methane (CH?) from anaerobic digesters is a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, but digester failure can be a serious problem. Monitoring the microbial community within the digester could provide valuable information about process stability because this technology is dependent upon the metabolic processes of microorganisms. A healthy methanogenic community is critical for digester function and CH? production. Methanogens can be surveyed and monitored using genes and transcripts of mcrA, which encodes the ? subunit of methyl coenzyme M reductase - the enzyme that catalyses the final step in methanogenesis. Using clone libraries and quantitative polymerase chain reaction, we compared the diversity and abundance of mcrA genes and transcripts in four different methanogenic hydrogen/CO? enrichment cultures to function, as measured by specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays using H? /CO? . The mcrA gene copy number significantly correlated with CH? production rates using H? /CO? , while correlations between mcrA transcript number and SMA were not significant. The DNA and cDNA clone libraries from all enrichments were distinctive but community diversity also did not correlate with SMA. Although hydrogenotrophic methanogens dominated these enrichments, the results indicate that this methodology should be applicable to monitoring other methanogenic communities in anaerobic digesters. Ultimately, this could lead to the engineering of digester microbial communities to produce more CH? for use as renewable fuel.
Project description:Liquid dairy manure treated with sulfuric acid was stored in duplicate pilot-scale storage tanks for 120 days with continuous monitoring of CH4 emissions and concurrent examination of changes in the structure of bacterial and methanogenic communities. Methane emissions were monitored at the site using laser-based Trace Gas Analyzer whereas quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and massively parallel sequencing were employed to study bacterial and methanogenic communities using 16S rRNA and methyl-coenzyme M Reductase A (mcrA) genes/transcripts, respectively. When compared with untreated slurries, acidification resulted in 69-84% reductions of cumulative CH4 emissions. The abundance, activity, and proportion of bacterial communities did not vary with manure acidification. However, the abundance and activity of methanogens (as estimated from mcrA gene and transcript copies, respectively) in acidified slurries were reduced by 6 and 20%, respectively. Up to 21% reduction in mcrA transcript/gene ratios were also detected in acidified slurries. Regardless of treatment, Methanocorpusculum predominated archaeal 16S rRNA and mcrA gene and transcript libraries. The proportion of Methanosarcina, which is the most metabolically-diverse methanogen, was the significant discriminant feature between acidified and untreated slurries. In acidified slurries, the relative proportions of Methanosarcina were ? 10%, whereas in untreated slurries, it represented up to 24 and 53% of the mcrA gene and transcript libraries, respectively. The low proportions of Methanosarcina in acidified slurries coincided with the reductions in CH4 emissions. The results suggest that reduction of CH4 missions achieved by acidification was due to an inhibition of the growth and activity of Methanosarcina species.
Project description:In this study, the microbial community succession in a thermophilic methanogenic bioreactor under deteriorative and stable conditions that were induced by acidification and neutralization, respectively, was investigated using PCR-mediated single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) based on the 16S rRNA gene, quantitative PCR, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The SSCP analysis indicated that the archaeal community structure was closely correlated with the volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration, while the bacterial population was impacted by pH. The archaeal community consisted mainly of two species of hydrogenotrophic methanogen (i.e., a Methanoculleus sp. and a Methanothermobacter sp.) and one species of aceticlastic methanogen (i.e., a Methanosarcina sp.). The quantitative PCR of the 16S rRNA gene from each methanogen revealed that the Methanoculleus sp. predominated among the methanogens during operation under stable conditions in the absence of VFAs. Accumulation of VFAs induced a dynamic transition of hydrogenotrophic methanogens, and in particular, a drastic change (i.e., an approximately 10,000-fold increase) in the amount of the 16S rRNA gene from the Methanothermobacter sp. The predominance of the one species of hydrogenotrophic methanogen was replaced by that of the other in response to the VFA concentration, suggesting that the dissolved hydrogen concentration played a decisive role in the predominance. The hydrogenotrophic methanogens existed close to bacteria in aggregates, and a transition of the associated bacteria was also observed by FISH analyses. The degradation of acetate accumulated during operation under deteriorative conditions was concomitant with the selective proliferation of the Methanosarcina sp., indicating effective acetate degradation by the aceticlastic methanogen. The simple methanogenic population in the thermophilic anaerobic digester significantly responded to the environmental conditions, especially to the concentration of VFAs.
Project description:Methane production by intestinal methanogenic Archaea and their community structure were compared among phylogenetic lineages of millipedes. Tropical and temperate millipedes of 35 species and 17 families were investigated. Species that emitted methane were mostly in the juliform orders Julida, Spirobolida, and Spirostreptida. The irregular phylogenetic distribution of methane production correlated with the presence of the methanogen-specific mcrA gene. The study brings the first detailed survey of methanogens' diversity in the digestive tract of millipedes. Sequences related to Methanosarcinales, Methanobacteriales, Methanomicrobiales and some unclassified Archaea were detected using molecular profiling (DGGE). The differences in substrate preferences of the main lineages of methanogenic Archaea found in different millipede orders indicate that the composition of methanogen communities may reflect the differences in available substrates for methanogenesis or the presence of symbiotic protozoa in the digestive tract. We conclude that differences in methane production in the millipede gut reflect differences in the activity and proliferation of intestinal methanogens rather than an absolute inability of some millipede taxa to host methanogens. This inference was supported by the general presence of methanogenic activity in millipede faecal pellets and the presence of the 16S rRNA gene of methanogens in all tested taxa in the two main groups of millipedes, the Helminthophora and the Pentazonia.