Cultivation of methanogenic community from subseafloor sediments using a continuous-flow bioreactor.
ABSTRACT: Microbial methanogenesis in subseafloor sediments is a key process in the carbon cycle on the Earth. However, the cultivation-dependent evidences have been poorly demonstrated. Here we report the cultivation of a methanogenic microbial consortium from subseafloor sediments using a continuous-flow-type bioreactor with polyurethane sponges as microbial habitats, called down-flow hanging sponge (DHS) reactor. We anaerobically incubated methane-rich core sediments collected from off Shimokita Peninsula, Japan, for 826 days in the reactor at 10?°C. Synthetic seawater supplemented with glucose, yeast extract, acetate and propionate as potential energy sources was provided into the reactor. After 289 days of operation, microbiological methane production became evident. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis revealed the presence of metabolically active microbial cells with various morphologies in the reactor. DNA- and RNA-based phylogenetic analyses targeting 16S rRNA indicated the successful growth of phylogenetically diverse microbial components during cultivation in the reactor. Most of the phylotypes in the reactor, once it made methane, were more closely related to culture sequences than to the subsurface environmental sequence. Potentially methanogenic phylotypes related to the genera Methanobacterium, Methanococcoides and Methanosarcina were predominantly detected concomitantly with methane production, while uncultured archaeal phylotypes were also detected. Using the methanogenic community enrichment as subsequent inocula, traditional batch-type cultivations led to the successful isolation of several anaerobic microbes including those methanogens. Our results substantiate that the DHS bioreactor is a useful system for the enrichment of numerous fastidious microbes from subseafloor sediments and will enable the physiological and ecological characterization of pure cultures of previously uncultivated subseafloor microbial life.
Project description:Anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in marine sediments is an important global methane sink, but the physiological characteristics of AOM-associated microorganisms remain poorly understood. Here we report the cultivation of an AOM microbial community from deep-sea methane-seep sediment using a continuous-flow bioreactor with polyurethane sponges, called the down-flow hanging sponge (DHS) bioreactor. We anaerobically incubated deep-sea methane-seep sediment collected from the Nankai Trough, Japan, for 2,013 days in the bioreactor at 10°C. Following incubation, an active AOM activity was confirmed by a tracer experiment using 13C-labeled methane. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that phylogenetically diverse Archaea and Bacteria grew in the bioreactor. After 2,013 days of incubation, the predominant archaeal components were anaerobic methanotroph (ANME)-2a, Deep-Sea Archaeal Group, and Marine Benthic Group-D, and Gammaproteobacteria was the dominant bacterial lineage. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis showed that ANME-1 and -2a, and most ANME-2c cells occurred without close physical interaction with potential bacterial partners. Our data demonstrate that the DHS bioreactor system is a useful system for cultivating fastidious methane-seep-associated sedimentary microorganisms.
Project description:The deep subseafloor biosphere is among the least-understood habitats on Earth, even though the huge microbial biomass therein plays an important role for potential long-term controls on global biogeochemical cycles. We report here the vertical and geographical distribution of microbes and their phylogenetic diversities in deeply buried marine sediments of the Pacific Ocean Margins. During the Ocean Drilling Program Legs 201 and 204, we obtained sediment cores from the Peru and Cascadia Margins that varied with respect to the presence of dissolved methane and methane hydrate. To examine differences in prokaryotic distribution patterns in sediments with or without methane hydrates, we studied >2,800 clones possessing partial sequences (400-500 bp) of the 16S rRNA gene and 348 representative clone sequences (approximately 1 kbp) from the two geographically separated subseafloor environments. Archaea of the uncultivated Deep-Sea Archaeal Group were consistently the dominant phylotype in sediments associated with methane hydrate. Sediment cores lacking methane hydrates displayed few or no Deep-Sea Archaeal Group phylotypes. Bacterial communities in the methane hydrate-bearing sediments were dominated by members of the JS1 group, Planctomycetes, and Chloroflexi. Results from cluster and principal component analyses, which include previously reported data from the West and East Pacific Margins, suggest that, for these locations in the Pacific Ocean, prokaryotic communities from methane hydrate-bearing sediment cores are distinct from those in hydrate-free cores. The recognition of which microbial groups prevail under distinctive subseafloor environments is a significant step toward determining the role these communities play in Earth's essential biogeochemical processes.
Project description:Wetlands contribute to 30% of global methane emissions due to an imbalance between microbial methane production and consumption. Methanogenesis and methanotrophy have mainly been studied separately, and little is known about their potential interactions in aquatic environments. To mimic the interaction between methane producers and oxidizers in the environment, we co-cultivated the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina barkeri with aerobic Methylocystaceae methanotrophs in an oxygen-limited bioreactor using acetate as methanogenic substrate. Methane, acetate, dissolved oxygen, available nitrogen, pH, temperature, and cell density were monitored to follow system stability and activity. Stable reactor operation was achieved for two consecutive periods of 2 months. Fluorescence in situ hybridization micrographs indicated close association between both groups of microorganisms. This association suggests that the methanotrophs profit from direct access to the methane that is produced from acetate, while methanogens are protected by the concomitant oxygen consumption of the methanotrophs. This proof of principle study can be used to set up systems to study their responses to environmental changes.
Project description:Subseafloor microbes beneath active hydrothermal vents are thought to live near the upper temperature limit for life on Earth. We drilled and cored the Iheya North hydrothermal field in the Mid-Okinawa Trough, and examined the phylogenetic compositions and the products of metabolic functions of sub-vent microbial communities. We detected microbial cells, metabolic activities and molecular signatures only in the shallow sediments down to 15.8?m below the seafloor at a moderately distant drilling site from the active hydrothermal vents (450?m). At the drilling site, the profiles of methane and sulfate concentrations and the ?13C and ?D isotopic compositions of methane suggested the laterally flowing hydrothermal fluids and the in situ microbial anaerobic methane oxidation. In situ measurements during the drilling constrain the current bottom temperature of the microbially habitable zone to ~45?°C. However, in the past, higher temperatures of 106-198?°C were possible at the depth, as estimated from geochemical thermometry on hydrothermally altered clay minerals. The 16S rRNA gene phylotypes found in the deepest habitable zone are related to those of thermophiles, although sequences typical of known hyperthermophilic microbes were absent from the entire core. Overall our results shed new light on the distribution and composition of the boundary microbial community close to the high-temperature limit for habitability in the subseafloor environment of a hydrothermal field.
Project description:Iron reduction in subseafloor sulfate-depleted and methane-rich marine sediments is currently a subject of interest in subsurface geomicrobiology. While iron reduction and microorganisms involved have been well studied in marine surface sediments, little is known about microorganisms responsible for iron reduction in deep methanic sediments. Here, we used quantitative PCR-based 16S rRNA gene copy numbers and pyrosequencing-based relative abundances of bacteria and archaea to investigate covariance between distinct microbial populations and specific geochemical profiles in the top 5 m of sediment cores from the Helgoland mud area, North Sea. We found that gene copy numbers of bacteria and archaea were specifically higher around the peak of dissolved iron in the methanic zone (250-350 cm). The higher copy numbers at these depths were also reflected by the relative sequence abundances of members of the candidate division JS1, methanogenic and Methanohalobium/ANME-3 related archaea. The distribution of these populations was strongly correlated to the profile of pore-water Fe(2+) while that of Desulfobacteraceae corresponded to the pore-water sulfate profile. Furthermore, specific JS1 populations also strongly co-varied with the distribution of Methanosaetaceae in the methanic zone. Our data suggest that the interplay among JS1 bacteria, methanogenic archaea and Methanohalobium/ANME-3-related archaea may be important for iron reduction and methane cycling in deep methanic sediments of the Helgoland mud area and perhaps in other methane-rich depositional environments.
Project description:Submarine mud volcanoes (SMVs) are formed by muddy sediments and breccias extruded to the seafloor from a source in the deep subseafloor and are characterized by the discharge of methane and other hydrocarbon gasses and deep-sourced fluids into the overlying seawater. Although SMVs act as a natural pipeline connecting the Earth's surface and subsurface biospheres, the dispersal of deep-biosphere microorganisms and their ecological roles remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the microbial communities in sediment and overlying seawater at two SMVs located on the Ryukyu Trench off Tanegashima Island, southern Japan. The microbial communities in mud volcano sediments were generally distinct from those in the overlying seawaters and in the well-stratified Pacific margin sediments collected at the Peru Margin, the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank off Oregon, and offshore of Shimokita Peninsula, northeastern Japan. Nevertheless, in-depth analysis of different taxonomic groups at the sub-species level revealed that the taxon affiliated with Atribacteria, heterotrophic anaerobic bacteria that typically occur in organic-rich anoxic subseafloor sediments, were commonly found not only in SMV sediments but also in the overlying seawater. We designed a new oligonucleotide probe for detecting Atribacteria using the catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH). CARD-FISH, digital PCR and sequencing analysis of 16S rRNA genes consistently showed that Atribacteria are abundant in the methane plumes of the two SMVs (0.58 and 1.5 × 104 cells/mL, respectively) but not in surrounding waters, suggesting that microbial cells in subseafloor sediments are dispersed as "deep-biosphere seeds" into the ocean. These findings may have important implications for the microbial transmigration between the deep subseafloor biosphere and the hydrosphere.
Project description:Microbial life inhabiting subseafloor sediments plays an important role in Earth's carbon cycle. However, the impact of geodynamic processes on the distributions and carbon-cycling activities of subseafloor life remains poorly constrained. We explore a submarine mud volcano of the Nankai accretionary complex by drilling down to 200 m below the summit. Stable isotopic compositions of water and carbon compounds, including clumped methane isotopologues, suggest that ~90% of methane is microbially produced at 16° to 30°C and 300 to 900 m below seafloor, corresponding to the basin bottom, where fluids in the accretionary prism are supplied via megasplay faults. Radiotracer experiments showed that relatively small microbial populations in deep mud volcano sediments (102 to 103 cells cm-3) include highly active hydrogenotrophic methanogens and acetogens. Our findings indicate that subduction-associated fluid migration has stimulated microbial activity in the mud reservoir and that mud volcanoes may contribute more substantially to the methane budget than previously estimated.
Project description:Methanogenic archaea produce methane as a metabolic product under anoxic conditions and they play a crucial role in the global methane cycle. In this study molecular diversity of methanogenic archaea in the hyporheic sediment of the lowland stream Sitka (Olomouc, Czech Republic) was analyzed by PCR amplification, cloning and sequencing analysis of the methyl coenzyme M reductase alpha subunit (mcrA) gene. Sequencing analysis of 60 clones revealed 24 different mcrA phylotypes from hyporheic sedimentary layers to a depth of 50 cm. Phylotypes were affiliated with Methanomicrobiales, Methanosarcinales and Methanobacteriales orders. Only one phylotype remains unclassified. The majority of the phylotypes showed higher affiliation with uncultured methanogens than with known methanogenic species. The presence of relatively rich assemblage of methanogenic archaea confirmed that methanogens may be an important component of hyporheic microbial communities and may affect CH4 cycling in rivers.
Project description:Coal-bearing sediments are major reservoirs of organic matter potentially available for methanogenic subsurface microbial communities. In this study the specific microbial community inside lignite-bearing sedimentary basin in Germany and its contribution to methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation processes was investigated. The stable isotope signature of methane measured in groundwater and coal-rich sediment samples indicated methanogenic activity. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences showed the presence of methanogenic Archaea, predominantly belonging to the orders Methanosarcinales and Methanomicrobiales, capable of acetoclastic or hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Furthermore, we identified fermenting, sulfate-, nitrate-, and metal-reducing, or acetogenic Bacteria clustering within the phyla Proteobacteria, complemented by members of the classes Actinobacteria, and Clostridia. The indigenous microbial communities found in the groundwater as well as in the coal-rich sediments are able to degrade coal-derived organic components and to produce methane as the final product. Lignite-bearing sediments may be an important nutrient and energy source influencing larger compartments via groundwater transport.
Project description:Background:Food waste is a large bio-resource that may be converted to biogas that can be used for heat and power production, or as transport fuel. We studied the anaerobic digestion of food waste in a staged digestion system consisting of separate acidogenic and methanogenic reactor vessels. Two anaerobic digestion parameters were investigated. First, we tested the effect of 55 vs. 65 °C acidogenic reactor temperature, and second, we examined the effect of reducing the hydraulic retention time (HRT) from 17 to 10 days in the methanogenic reactor. Process parameters including biogas production were monitored, and the microbial community composition was characterized by 16S amplicon sequencing. Results:Neither organic matter removal nor methane production were significantly different for the 55 and 65 °C systems, despite the higher acetate and butyrate concentrations observed in the 65 °C acidogenic reactor. Ammonium levels in the methanogenic reactors were about 950 mg/L NH4+ when HRT was 17 days but were reduced to 550 mg/L NH4+ at 10 days HRT. Methane production increased from ~ 3600 mL/day to ~ 7800 when the HRT was decreased. Each reactor had unique environmental parameters and a correspondingly unique microbial community. In fact, the distinct values in each reactor for just two parameters, pH and ammonium concentration, recapitulate the separation seen in microbial community composition. The thermophilic and mesophilic digesters were particularly distinct from one another. The 55 °C acidogenic reactor was mainly dominated by Thermoanaerobacterium and Ruminococcus, whereas the 65 °C acidogenic reactor was initially dominated by Thermoanaerobacterium but later was overtaken by Coprothermobacter. The acidogenic reactors were lower in diversity (34-101 observed OTU0.97, 1.3-2.5 Shannon) compared to the methanogenic reactors (472-513 observed OTU0.97, 5.1-5.6 Shannon). The microbial communities in the acidogenic reactors were > 90% Firmicutes, and the Euryarchaeota were higher in relative abundance in the methanogenic reactors. Conclusions:The digestion systems had similar biogas production and COD removal rates, and hence differences in temperature, NH4+ concentration, and pH in the reactors resulted in distinct but similarly functioning microbial communities over this range of operating parameters. Consequently, one could reduce operational costs by lowering both the hydrolysis temperature from 65 to 55 °C and the HRT from 17 to 10 days.