An unexpectedly broad thermal and salinity-tolerant estuarine methanogen community

Lynsay I. Blake*, Angela Sherry, Obioma K. Mejeha, Peter Leary, Henry Coombs, Wendy Stone, Ian M. Head, Neil D. Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Moderately thermophilic (Tmax, ~55 °C) methanogens are identified after extended enrichments from temperate, tropical and low-temperature environments. However, thermophilic methanogens with higher growth temperatures (Topt ≥ 60 °C) are only reported from high-temperature environments. A microcosm-based approach was used to measure the rate of methane production and methanogen community structure over a range of temperatures and salinities in sediment from a temperate estuary. We report short-term incubations (<48 h) revealing methanogens with optimal activity reaching 70 °C in a temperate estuary sediment (in situ temperature 4–5 °C). While 30 °C enrichments amended with acetate, H2 or methanol selected for corresponding mesophilic trophic groups, at 60 °C, only hydrogenotrophs (genus Methanothermobacter) were observed. Since these methanogens are not known to be active under in situ temperatures, we conclude constant dispersal from high temperature habitats. The likely provenance of the thermophilic methanogens was studied by enrichments covering a range of temperatures and salinities. These enrichments indicated that the estuarine sediment hosted methanogens encompassing the global activity envelope of most cultured species. We suggest that estuaries are fascinating sink and source environments for microbial function study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1467
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2020


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