Increases in temperature and nutrient availability positively affect methane-cycling microorganisms in Arctic thermokarst lake sediments

Anniek E.E. de Jong, Michiel H. in ’t Zandt, Ove H. Meisel, Mike S.M. Jetten, Joshua F. Dean, Olivia Rasigraf, Cornelia U. Welte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Arctic permafrost soils store large amounts of organic matter that is sensitive to temperature increases and subsequent microbial degradation to methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Here, we studied methanogenic and methanotrophic activity and community composition in thermokarst lake sediments from Utqiag˙vik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. This experiment was carried out under in situ temperature conditions (4°C) and the IPCC 2013 Arctic climate change scenario (10°C) after addition of methanogenic and methanotrophic substrates for nearly a year. Trimethylamine (TMA) amendment with warming showed highest maximum CH4 production rates, being 30% higher at 10°C than at 4°C. Maximum methanotrophic rates increased by up to 57% at 10°C compared to 4°C. 16S rRNA gene sequencing indicated high relative abundance of Methanosarcinaceae in TMA amended incubations, and for methanotrophic incubations Methylococcaeae were highly enriched. Anaerobic methanotrophic activity with nitrite or nitrate as electron acceptor was not detected. This study indicates that the methane cycling microbial community can adapt to temperature increases and that their activity is highly dependent on substrate availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4314-4327
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number12
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: EMI is 20! Part 2


We thank Jeroen Frank for the great discussions about sequencing analysis, Sebastian Krosse for pore-water data analysis, and Han Dolman for fruitful discussions and input. This research was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research through the Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NESSC) Gravitation Grant [grant number 024.002.001 to MitZ, AdJ, OR, JD, OM and MJ], the Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology (SIAM) Gravitation Grant [grant number 024.002.002 to MJ and CW] and the European Research Council Advanced Grant [grant number 339880 to MJ].

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology024.002.002
Seventh Framework Programme339880
European Research Council
Netherlands Earth System Science Centre024.002.001


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