Pyrosequencing of mcrA and archaeal 16S rRNA genes reveals diversity and substrate preferences of methanogen communities in anaerobic digesters.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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: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:Major acetate-utilizing bacterial and archaeal populations in methanogenic anaerobic digester sludge were identified and quantified by radioisotope- and stable-isotope-based functional analyses, microautoradiography-fluorescence in situ hybridization (MAR-FISH) and stable-isotope probing of 16S rRNA (RNA-SIP) that can directly link 16S rRNA phylogeny with in situ metabolic function. First, MAR-FISH with (14)C-acetate indicated the significant utilization of acetate by only two major groups, unidentified bacterial cells and Methanosaeta-like filamentous archaeal cells, in the digester sludge. To identify the acetate-utilizing unidentified bacteria, RNA-SIP was conducted with (13)C(6)-glucose and (13)C(3)-propionate as sole carbon source, which were followed by phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA. We found that bacteria belonging to Synergistes group 4 were commonly detected in both 16S rRNA clone libraries derived from the sludge incubated with (13)C-glucose and (13)C-propionate. To confirm that this bacterial group can utilize acetate, specific FISH probe targeting for Synergistes group 4 was newly designed and applied to the sludge incubated with (14)C-acetate for MAR-FISH. The MAR-FISH result showed that bacteria belonging to Synergistes group 4 significantly took up acetate and their active population size was comparable to that of Methanosaeta in this sludge. In addition, as bacteria belonging to Synergistes group 4 had high K(m) for acetate and maximum utilization rate, they are more competitive for acetate over Methanosaeta at high acetate concentrations (2.5-10? mM). To our knowledge, it is the first time to report the acetate-utilizing activity of uncultured bacteria belonging to Synergistes group 4 and its competitive significance to acetoclastic methanogen, Methanosaeta.
Project description:Anaerobic digestion is a popular and effective microbial process for waste treatment. The performance of anaerobic digestion processes is contingent on the balance of the microbial food web in utilizing various substrates. Recently, co-digestion, i.e., supplementing the primary substrate with an organic-rich co-substrate has been exploited to improve waste treatment efficiency. Yet the potential effects of elevated organic loading on microbial functional gene community remains elusive. In this study, functional gene array (GeoChip 5.0) was used to assess the response of microbial community to the addition of poultry waste in anaerobic digesters treating dairy manure. Consistent with 16S rRNA gene sequences data, GeoChip data showed that microbial community compositions were significantly shifted in favor of copiotrophic populations by co-digestion, as taxa with higher rRNA gene copy number such as Bacilli were enriched. The acetoclastic methanogen Methanosarcina was also enriched, while Methanosaeta was unaltered but more abundant than Methanosarcina throughout the study period. The microbial functional diversity involved in anaerobic digestion were also increased under co-digestion. Overall design: There were two sets of anaerobic digesters. Three control digesters were fed with dairy manure and the organic loading rate kept constant. The three treatment digesters were fed with poultry waste in addition to dairy manure, resulting in step-wise increase in the organic loading rate. Sludge samples were taken at different time points from the six digesters.
Project description:This study examined whether the abundance and expression of microbial 16S rRNA genes were associated with elemental concentrations and substrate conversion biokinetics in 20 full-scale anaerobic digesters, including seven municipal sewage sludge (SS) digesters and 13 industrial codigesters. SS digester contents had higher methane production rates from acetate, propionate and phenyl acetate compared to industrial codigesters. SS digesters and industrial codigesters were distinctly clustered based on their elemental concentrations, with higher concentrations of NH3 -N, Cl, K and Na observed in codigesters. Amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and reverse-transcribed 16S rRNA revealed divergent grouping of microbial communities between mesophilic SS digesters, mesophilic codigesters and thermophilic digesters. Higher intradigester distances between Archaea 16S rRNA and rRNA gene profiles were observed in mesophilic codigesters, which also had the lowest acetate utilization biokinetics. Constrained ordination showed that microbial rRNA and rRNA gene profiles were significantly associated with maximum methane production rates from acetate, propionate, oleate and phenyl acetate, as well as concentrations of NH3 -N, Fe, S, Mo and Ni. A co-occurrence network of rRNA gene expression confirmed the three main clusters of anaerobic digester communities based on active populations. Syntrophic and methanogenic taxa were highly represented within the subnetworks, indicating that obligate energy-sharing partnerships play critical roles in stabilizing the digester microbiome. Overall, these results provide new evidence showing that different feed substrates associate with different micronutrient compositions in anaerobic digesters, which in turn may influence microbial abundance, activity and function.
Project description:Methanogens are of great importance in carbon cycling and alternative energy production, but quantitation with culture-based methods is time-consuming and biased against methanogen groups that are difficult to cultivate in a laboratory. For these reasons, methanogens are typically studied through culture-independent molecular techniques. We developed a SYBR green I quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay to quantify total numbers of methyl coenzyme M reductase alpha-subunit (mcrA) genes. TaqMan probes were also designed to target nine different phylogenetic groups of methanogens in qPCR assays. Total mcrA and mcrA levels of different methanogen phylogenetic groups were determined from six samples: four samples from anaerobic digesters used to treat either primarily cow or pig manure and two aliquots from an acidic peat sample stored at 4 degrees C or 20 degrees C. Only members of the Methanosaetaceae, Methanosarcina, Methanobacteriaceae, and Methanocorpusculaceae and Fen cluster were detected in the environmental samples. The three samples obtained from cow manure digesters were dominated by members of the genus Methanosarcina, whereas the sample from the pig manure digester contained detectable levels of only members of the Methanobacteriaceae. The acidic peat samples were dominated by both Methanosarcina spp. and members of the Fen cluster. In two of the manure digester samples only one methanogen group was detected, but in both of the acidic peat samples and two of the manure digester samples, multiple methanogen groups were detected. The TaqMan qPCR assays were successfully able to determine the environmental abundance of different phylogenetic groups of methanogens, including several groups with few or no cultivated members.
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:An anaerobic dynamic membrane digester (ADMD) was developed to digest waste sludge, and pyrosequencing was used to analyze the variations of the bacterial and archaeal communities during the start-up. Results showed that bacterial community richness decreased and then increased over time, while bacterial diversity remained almost the same during the start-up. Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the major phyla. At the class level, Betaproteobacteria was the most abundant at the end of start-up, followed by Sphingobacteria. In the archaeal community, richness and diversity peaked at the end of the start-up stage. Principle component and cluster analyses demonstrated that archaeal consortia experienced a distinct shift and became stable after day 38. Methanomicrobiales and Methanosarcinales were the two predominant orders. Further investigations indicated that Methanolinea and Methanosaeta were responsible for methane production in the ADMD system. Hydrogenotrophic pathways might prevail over acetoclastic means for methanogenesis during the start-up, supported by specific methanogenic activity tests.