Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

The Impact of Methane on Microbial Communities at Marine Arctic Gas Hydrate Bearing Sediment

New publication by Vincent Carrier, Mette M. Svenning, Friederike Gründger, Helge Niemann, Pierre-Antoine Dessandier, Giuliana Panieri and Dimitri Kalenitchenko

2020.10.22 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


Cold seeps are characterized by high biomass, which is supported by the microbial oxidation of the available methane by capable microorganisms. The carbon is subsequently transferred to higher trophic levels. South of Svalbard, five geological mounds shaped by the formation of methane gas hydrates, have been recently located. Methane gas seeping activity has been observed on four of them, and flares were primarily concentrated at their summits. At three of these mounds, and along a distance gradient from their summit to their outskirt, we investigated the eukaryotic and prokaryotic biodiversity linked to 16S and 18S rDNA. Here we show that local methane seepage and other environmental conditions did affect the microbial community structure and composition. We could not demonstrate a community gradient from the summit to the edge of the mounds. Instead, a similar community structure in any methane-rich sediments could be retrieved at any location on these mounds. The oxidation of methane was largely driven by anaerobic methanotrophic Archaea-1 (ANME-1) and the communities also hosted high relative abundances of sulfate reducing bacterial groups although none demonstrated a clear co-occurrence with the predominance of ANME-1. Additional common taxa were observed and their abundances were likely benefiting from the end products of methane oxidation. Among these were sulfide-oxidizing Campilobacterota, organic matter degraders, such as Bathyarchaeota, Woesearchaeota, or thermoplasmatales marine benthic group D, and heterotrophic ciliates and Cercozoa.


Arctic Research Centre