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PloS one

Light-Dependent Aerobic Methane Oxidation Reduces Methane Emissions from Seasonally Stratified Lakes.


PMID 26193458

Abstract

Lakes are a natural source of methane to the atmosphere and contribute significantly to total emissions compared to the oceans. Controls on methane emissions from lake surfaces, particularly biotic processes within anoxic hypolimnia, are only partially understood. Here we investigated biological methane oxidation in the water column of the seasonally stratified Lake Rotsee. A zone of methane oxidation extending from the oxic/anoxic interface into anoxic waters was identified by chemical profiling of oxygen, methane and δ13C of methane. Incubation experiments with 13C-methane yielded highest oxidation rates within the oxycline, and comparable rates were measured in anoxic waters. Despite predominantly anoxic conditions within the zone of methane oxidation, known groups of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea were conspicuously absent. Instead, aerobic gammaproteobacterial methanotrophs were identified as the active methane oxidizers. In addition, continuous oxidation and maximum rates always occurred under light conditions. These findings, along with the detection of chlorophyll a, suggest that aerobic methane oxidation is tightly coupled to light-dependent photosynthetic oxygen production both at the oxycline and in the anoxic bottom layer. It is likely that this interaction between oxygenic phototrophs and aerobic methanotrophs represents a widespread mechanism by which methane is oxidized in lake water, thus diminishing its release into the atmosphere.

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