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Diversity and ubiquity of thermophilic methanogenic archaea in temperate anoxic soils

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Summary

Temperate rice field soil from Vercelli (Italy) contains moderately thermophilic methanogens of the yet uncultivated rice cluster I (RC-I), which become prevalent upon incubation at temperatures of 45–50°C. We studied whether such thermophilic methanogens were ubiquitously present in anoxic soils. Incubation of different rice field soils (from Italy, China and the Philippines) and flooded riparian soils (from the Netherlands) at 45°C resulted in vigorous CH4 production after a lag phase of about 10 days. The archaeal community structure in the soils was analysed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) targeting the SSU rRNA genes retrieved from the soil, and by cloning and sequencing. Clones of RC-I methanogens mostly exhibited T-RF of 393 bp, but also terminal restriction fragment (T-RF) of 158 and 258 bp length, indicating a larger diversity than previously assumed. No RC-I methanogens were initially found in flooded riparian soils. However, these archaea became abundant upon incubation of the soil at 45°C. Thermophilic RC-I methanogens were also found in the rice field soils from Pavia, Pila and Gapan. However, the archaeal communities in these soils also contained other methanogenic archaea at high temperature. Rice field soil from Buggalon, on the other hand, only contained thermophilic Methanomicrobiales rather than RC-I methanogens, and rice field soil from Jurong mostly Methanomicrobiales and only a few RC-I methanogens. The archaeal community of rice field soil from Zhenjiang almost exclusively consisted of Methanosarcinaceae when incubated at high temperature. Our results show that moderately thermophilic methanogens are common in temperate soils. However, RC-I methanogens are not always dominating or ubiquitous.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von Frisch-Str., 35043 Marburg, Germany.

Publication date: 01 March 2006

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