Detection of autotrophic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in a geothermal environment using stable isotope probing.
ABSTRACT: Genomic analysis of the methanotrophic verrucomicrobium "Methylacidiphilum infernorum" strain V4 has shown that most pathways conferring its methanotrophic lifestyle are similar to those found in proteobacterial methanotrophs. However, due to the large sequence divergence of its methane monooxygenase-encoding genes (pmo), "universal" pmoA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers do not target these bacteria. Unlike proteobacterial methanotrophs, "Methylacidiphilum" fixes carbon autotrophically, and uses methane only for energy generation. As a result, techniques used to detect methanotrophs in the environment such as (13)CH(4)-stable isotope probing (SIP) and pmoA-targeted PCR do not detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs, and they may have been overlooked in previous environmental studies. We developed a modified SIP technique to identify active methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia in the environment by labeling with (13)CO(2) and (13)CH(4), individually and in combination. Testing the protocol in "M. infernorum" strain V4 resulted in assimilation of (13)CO(2) but not (13)CH(4), verifying its autotrophic lifestyle. To specifically detect methanotrophs (as opposed to other autotrophs) via (13)CO(2)-SIP, a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay specific for verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes was developed and used in combination with SIP. Incubation of an acidic, high-temperature geothermal soil with (13)CH(4) + (12)CO(2) caused little shift in the density distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes relative to controls. However, labeling with (13)CO(2) in combination with (12)CH(4) or (13)CH(4) induced a strong shift in the distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes towards the heavy DNA fractions. The modified SIP technique demonstrated that the primary methanotrophs active in the soil were autotrophs and belonged to the Verrucomicrobia. This is the first demonstration of autotrophic, non-proteobacterial methanotrophy in situ, and provides a tool to detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in other ecosystems.
Project description:The melting of permafrost and its potential impact on CH(4) emissions are major concerns in the context of global warming. Methanotrophic bacteria have the capacity to mitigate CH(4) emissions from melting permafrost. Here, we used quantitative PCR (qPCR), stable isotope probing (SIP) of DNA, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprinting, and sequencing of the 16S rRNA and pmoA genes to study the activity and diversity of methanotrophic bacteria in active-layer soils from Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic. Results showed that most of the soils had the capacity to oxidize CH(4) at 4 degrees C and at room temperature (RT), but the oxidation rates were greater at RT than at 4 degrees C and were significantly enhanced by nutrient amendment. The DGGE banding patterns associated with active methanotrophic bacterial populations were also different depending on the temperature of incubation and the addition of nutrients. Sequencing of the 16S rRNA and pmoA genes indicated a low diversity of the active methanotrophic bacteria, with all methanotroph 16S rRNA and pmoA gene sequences being related to type I methanotrophs from Methylobacter and Methylosarcina. The dominance of type I methanotrophs over type II methanotrophs in the native soil samples was confirmed by qPCR of the 16S rRNA gene with primers specific for these two groups of bacteria. The 16S rRNA and pmoA gene sequences related to those of Methylobacter tundripaludum were found in all soils, regardless of the incubation conditions, and they might therefore play a role in CH(4) degradation in situ. This work is providing new information supporting the potential importance of Methylobacter spp. in Arctic soils found in previous studies and contributes to the limited body of knowledge on methanotrophic activity and diversity in this extreme environment.
Project description:Methane (CH(4)) flux to the atmosphere is mitigated via microbial CH(4) oxidation in sediments and water. As arctic temperatures increase, understanding the effects of temperature on the activity and identity of methanotrophs in arctic lake sediments is important to predicting future CH(4) emissions. We used DNA-based stable-isotope probing (SIP), quantitative PCR (Q-PCR), and pyrosequencing analyses to identify and characterize methanotrophic communities active at a range of temperatures (4°C, 10°C, and 21°C) in sediments (to a depth of 25 cm) sampled from Lake Qalluuraq on the North Slope of Alaska. CH(4) oxidation activity was measured in microcosm incubations containing sediments at all temperatures, with the highest CH(4) oxidation potential of 37.5 μmol g(-1) day(-1) in the uppermost (depth, 0 to 1 cm) sediment at 21°C after 2 to 5 days of incubation. Q-PCR of pmoA and of the 16S rRNA genes of type I and type II methanotrophs, and pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes in (13)C-labeled DNA obtained by SIP demonstrated that the type I methanotrophs Methylobacter, Methylomonas, and Methylosoma dominated carbon acquisition from CH(4) in the sediments. The identity and relative abundance of active methanotrophs differed with the incubation temperature. Methylotrophs were also abundant in the microbial community that derived carbon from CH(4), especially in the deeper sediments (depth, 15 to 20 cm) at low temperatures (4°C and 10°C), and showed a good linear relationship (R = 0.82) with the relative abundances of methanotrophs in pyrosequencing reads. This study describes for the first time how methanotrophic communities in arctic lake sediments respond to temperature variations.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Aerobic methanotrophs can grow in hostile volcanic environments and use methane as their sole source of energy. The discovery of three verrucomicrobial Methylacidiphilum strains has revealed diverse metabolic pathways used by these methanotrophs, including mechanisms through which methane is oxidized. The basis of a complete understanding of these processes and of how these bacteria evolved and are able to thrive in such extreme environments partially resides in the complete characterization of their genome and its architecture. RESULTS: In this study, we present the complete genome sequence of Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, obtained using Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology. The genome assembles to a single 2.5 Mbp chromosome with an average GC content of 41.5%. The genome contains 2,741 annotated genes and 314 functional subsystems including all key metabolic pathways that are associated with Methylacidiphilum strains, including the CBB pathway for CO2 fixation. However, it does not encode the serine cycle and ribulose monophosphate pathways for carbon fixation. Phylogenetic analysis of the particulate methane mono-oxygenase operon separates the Methylacidiphilum strains from other verrucomicrobial methanotrophs. RNA-Seq analysis of cell cultures growing in three different conditions revealed the deregulation of two out of three pmoCAB operons. In addition, genes involved in nitrogen fixation were upregulated in cell cultures growing in nitrogen fixing conditions, indicating the presence of active nitrogenase. Characterization of the global methylation state of M. fumariolicum SolV revealed methylation of adenines and cytosines mainly in the coding regions of the genome. Methylation of adenines was predominantly associated with 5'-m6ACN4GT-3' and 5'-CCm6AN5CTC-3' methyltransferase recognition motifs whereas methylated cytosines were not associated with any specific motif. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide novel insights into the global methylation state of verrucomicrobial methanotroph M. fumariolicum SolV. However, partial conservation of methyltransferases between M. fumariolicum SolV and M. infernorum V4 indicates potential differences in the global methylation state of Methylacidiphilum strains. Unravelling the M. fumariolicum SolV genome and its epigenetic regulation allow for robust characterization of biological processes that are involved in oxidizing methane. In turn, they offer a better understanding of the evolution, the underlying physiological and ecological properties of SolV and other Methylacidiphilum strains.
Project description:Emissions of the strong greenhouse gas methane (CH4) to the atmosphere are mitigated by methanotrophic microorganisms. Methanotrophs found in extremely acidic geothermal systems belong to the phylum Verrucomicrobia. Thermophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs from the genus Methylacidiphilum can grow autotrophically on hydrogen gas (H2), but it is unknown whether this also holds for their mesophilic counterparts from the genus Methylacidimicrobium. To determine this, we examined H2 consumption and CO2 fixation by the mesophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax 4AC. We found that strain 4AC grows autotrophically on H2 with a maximum growth rate of 0.0048 h-1 and a yield of 2.1 g dry weight?mol H2 -1, which is about 12 and 41% compared to the growth rate and yield on methane, respectively. The genome of strain 4AC only encodes for an oxygen-sensitive group 1b [NiFe] hydrogenase and H2 is respired only when oxygen concentrations are below 40 ?M. Phylogenetic analysis and genomic comparison of methanotrophs revealed diverse [NiFe] hydrogenases, presumably with varying oxygen sensitivity and affinity for H2, which could drive niche differentiation. Our results show that both thermophilic and mesophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs can grow as autotrophs on H2 as a sole energy source. Our results suggest that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs are particularly well-equipped to thrive in hostile volcanic ecosystems, since they can consume H2 as additional energy source.
Project description:The mxaF gene, coding for the large (?) subunit of methanol dehydrogenase, is highly conserved among distantly related methylotrophic species in the Alpha-, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria. It is ubiquitous in methanotrophs, in contrast to other methanotroph-specific genes such as the pmoA and mmoX genes, which are absent in some methanotrophic proteobacterial genera. This study examined the potential for using the mxaF gene as a functional and phylogenetic marker for methanotrophs. mxaF and 16S rRNA gene phylogenies were constructed based on over 100 database sequences of known proteobacterial methanotrophs and other methylotrophs to assess their evolutionary histories. Topology tests revealed that mxaF and 16S rDNA genes of methanotrophs do not show congruent evolutionary histories, with incongruencies in methanotrophic taxa in the Methylococcaceae, Methylocystaceae, and Beijerinckiacea. However, known methanotrophs generally formed coherent clades based on mxaF gene sequences, allowing for phylogenetic discrimination of major taxa. This feature highlights the mxaF gene's usefulness as a biomarker in studying the molecular diversity of proteobacterial methanotrophs in nature. To verify this, PCR-directed assays targeting this gene were used to detect novel methanotrophs from diverse environments including soil, peatland, hydrothermal vent mussel tissues, and methanotroph isolates. The placement of the majority of environmental mxaF gene sequences in distinct methanotroph-specific clades (Methylocystaceae and Methylococcaceae) detected in this study supports the use of mxaF as a biomarker for methanotrophic proteobacteria.
Project description:We investigated the effect of afforestation and reforestation of pastures on methane oxidation and the methanotrophic communities in soils from three different New Zealand sites. Methane oxidation was measured in soils from two pine (Pinus radiata) forests and one shrubland (mainly Kunzea ericoides var. ericoides) and three adjacent permanent pastures. The methane oxidation rate was consistently higher in the pine forest or shrubland soils than in the adjacent pasture soils. A combination of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and stable isotope probing (SIP) analyses of these soils revealed that different methanotrophic communities were active in soils under the different vegetations. The C18 PLFAs (signature of type II methanotrophs) predominated under pine and shrublands, and C16 PLFAs (type I methanotrophs) predominated under pastures. Analysis of the methanotrophs by molecular methods revealed further differences in methanotrophic community structure under the different vegetation types. Cloning and sequencing and terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the particulate methane oxygenase gene (pmoA) from different samples confirmed the PLFA-SIP results that methanotrophic bacteria related to type II methanotrophs were dominant in pine forest and shrubland, and type I methanotrophs (related to Methylococcus capsulatus) were dominant in all pasture soils. We report that afforestation and reforestation of pastures caused changes in methane oxidation by altering the community structure of methanotrophic bacteria in these soils.
Project description:Forest and other upland soils are important sinks for atmospheric CH(4), consuming 20 to 60 Tg of CH(4) per year. Consumption of atmospheric CH(4) by soil is a microbiological process. However, little is known about the methanotrophic bacterial community in forest soils. We measured vertical profiles of atmospheric CH(4) oxidation rates in a German forest soil and characterized the methanotrophic populations by PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) with primer sets targeting the pmoA gene, coding for the alpha subunit of the particulate methane monooxygenase, and the small-subunit rRNA gene (SSU rDNA) of all life. The forest soil was a sink for atmospheric CH(4) in situ and in vitro at all times. In winter, atmospheric CH(4) was oxidized in a well-defined subsurface soil layer (6 to 14 cm deep), whereas in summer, the complete soil core was active (0 cm to 26 cm deep). The content of total extractable DNA was about 10-fold higher in summer than in winter. It decreased with soil depth (0 to 28 cm deep) from about 40 to 1 microg DNA per g (dry weight) of soil. The PCR product concentration of SSU rDNA of all life was constant both in winter and in summer. However, the PCR product concentration of pmoA changed with depth and season. pmoA was detected only in soil layers with active CH(4) oxidation, i.e., 6 to 16 cm deep in winter and throughout the soil core in summer. The same methanotrophic populations were present in winter and summer. Layers with high CH(4) consumption rates also exhibited more bands of pmoA in DGGE, indicating that high CH(4) oxidation activity was positively correlated with the number of methanotrophic populations present. The pmoA sequences derived from excised DGGE bands were only distantly related to those of known methanotrophs, indicating the existence of unknown methanotrophs involved in atmospheric CH(4) consumption.
Project description:Aerobic methanotrophic bacteria have evolved a specialist lifestyle dependent on consumption of methane and other short-chain carbon compounds. However, their apparent substrate specialism runs contrary to the high relative abundance of these microorganisms in dynamic environments, where the availability of methane and oxygen fluctuates. In this work, we provide in situ and ex situ evidence that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs are mixotrophs. Verrucomicrobia-dominated soil communities from an acidic geothermal field in Rotokawa, New Zealand rapidly oxidised methane and hydrogen simultaneously. We isolated and characterised a verrucomicrobial strain from these soils, Methylacidiphilum sp. RTK17.1, and showed that it constitutively oxidises molecular hydrogen. Genomic analysis confirmed that this strain encoded two [NiFe]-hydrogenases (group 1d and 3b), and biochemical assays revealed that it used hydrogen as an electron donor for aerobic respiration and carbon fixation. While the strain could grow heterotrophically on methane or autotrophically on hydrogen, it grew optimally by combining these metabolic strategies. Hydrogen oxidation was particularly important for adaptation to methane and oxygen limitation. Complementary to recent findings of hydrogenotrophic growth by Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, our findings illustrate that verrucomicrobial methanotrophs have evolved to simultaneously utilise hydrogen and methane from geothermal sources to meet energy and carbon demands where nutrient flux is dynamic. This mixotrophic lifestyle is likely to have facilitated expansion of the niche space occupied by these microorganisms, allowing them to become dominant in geothermally influenced surface soils. Genes encoding putative oxygen-tolerant uptake [NiFe]-hydrogenases were identified in all publicly available methanotroph genomes, suggesting hydrogen oxidation is a general metabolic strategy in this guild.
Project description:Genome data of the extreme acidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph Methylacidiphilum fumariolicumstrain SolV indicated the ability of autotrophic growth. This was further validated by transcriptome analysis, which showed that all genes required for a functional Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle were transcribed. Experiments with (13)CH(4) or (13)CO(2) in batch and chemostat cultures demonstrated that CO(2) is the sole carbon source for growth of strain SolV. In the presence of CH(4), CO(2) concentrations in the headspace below 1% (vol/vol) were growth limiting, and no growth was observed when CO(2)concentrations were below 0.3% (vol/vol). The activity of the key enzyme of the CBB cycle, ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), measured with a (13)C stable-isotope method was about 70 nmol CO(2) fixed · min(-1)· mg of protein(-1). An immune reaction with antibody against the large subunit of RuBisCO on Western blots was found only in the supernatant fractions of cell extracts. The apparent native mass of the RuBisCO complex in strain SolV was about 482 kDa, probably consisting of 8 large (53-kDa) and 8 small (16-kDa) subunits. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the corresponding RuBisCO gene, we postulate that RuBisCO of the verrucomicrobial methanotrophs represents a new type of form I RuBisCO.
Project description:Methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia have been found in geothermal environments characterized by high temperatures and low pH values. However, it has recently been hypothesized that methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia could be present under a broader range of environmental conditions. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of three new species of mesophilic acidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotrophs from a volcanic soil in Italy. The three new species showed 97% to 98% 16S rRNA gene identity to each other but were related only distantly (89% to 90% on the 16S rRNA level) to the thermophilic genus Methylacidiphilum. We propose the new genus Methylacidimicrobium, including the novel species Methylacidimicrobium fagopyrum, Methylacidimicrobium tartarophylax, and Methylacidimicrobium cyclopophantes. These mesophilic Methylacidimicrobium spp. were more acid tolerant than their thermophilic relatives; the most tolerant species, M. tartarophylax, still grew at pH 0.5. The variation in growth temperature optima (35 to 44°C) and maximum growth rates (µmax; 0.013 to 0.040 h(-1)) suggested that all species were adapted to a specific niche within the geothermal environment. All three species grew autotrophically using the Calvin cycle. The cells of all species contained glycogen particles and electron-dense particles in their cytoplasm as visualized by electron microscopy. In addition, the cells of one of the species (M. fagopyrum) contained intracytoplasmic membrane stacks. The discovery of these three new species and their growth characteristics expands the known diversity of verrucomicrobial methanotrophs and shows that they are present in many more ecosystems than previously assumed.