Anaerobic Oxidation of Short-Chain Alkanes in Hydrothermal Sediments: Potential Influences on Sulfur Cycling and Microbial Diversity

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Anaerobic Oxidation of Short-Chain Alkanes in Hydrothermal Sediments: Potential Influences on Sulfur Cycling and Microbial Diversity

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Title: Anaerobic Oxidation of Short-Chain Alkanes in Hydrothermal Sediments: Potential Influences on Sulfur Cycling and Microbial Diversity
Author: Adams, Melissa Marie; Hoarfrost, Adrienne L.; Bose, Arpita; Joye, Samantha B.; Girguis, Peter R.

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Citation: Adams, Melissa Marie, Adrienne L. Hoarfrost, Arpita Bose, Samantha B. Joye, and Peter R. Girguis. 2013. Anaerobic oxidation of short-chain alkanes in hydrothermal sediments: Potential influences on sulfur cycling and microbial diversity. Frontiers in Microbiology 4:110.
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Abstract: Short-chain alkanes play a substantial role in carbon and sulfur cycling at hydrocarbon-rich environments globally, yet few studies have examined the metabolism of ethane \((C_2)\), propane \((C_3)\), and butane \((C_4)\) in anoxic sediments in contrast to methane \((C_1)\). In hydrothermal vent systems, short-chain alkanes are formed over relatively short geological time scales via thermogenic processes and often exist at high concentrations. The sediment-covered hydrothermal vent systems at Middle Valley (MV, Juan de Fuca Ridge) are an ideal site for investigating the anaerobic oxidation of \(C_1–C_4\) alkanes, given the elevated temperatures and dissolved hydrocarbon species characteristic of these metalliferous sediments. We examined whether MV microbial communities oxidized \(C_1–C_4\) alkanes under mesophilic to thermophilic sulfate-reducing conditions. Here we present data from discrete temperature (25, 55, and \(75^{\circ}C\)) anaerobic batch reactor incubations of MV sediments supplemented with individual alkanes. Co-registered alkane consumption and sulfate reduction (SR) measurements provide clear evidence for \(C_1–C_4\) alkane oxidation linked to SR over time and across temperatures. In these anaerobic batch reactor sediments, 16S ribosomal RNA pyrosequencing revealed that Deltaproteobacteria, particularly a novel sulfate-reducing lineage, were the likely phylotypes mediating the oxidation of \(C_2–C_4\) alkanes. Maximum \(C_1–C_4\) alkane oxidation rates occurred at \(55^{\circ}C\), which reflects the mid-core sediment temperature profile and corroborates previous studies of rate maxima for the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). Of the alkanes investigated, \(C_3\) was oxidized at the highest rate over time, then \(C_4\), \(C_2\), and \(C_1\), respectively. The implications of these results are discussed with respect to the potential competition between the anaerobic oxidation of \(C_2–C_4\) alkanes with AOM for available oxidants and the influence on the fate of \(C_1\) derived from these hydrothermal systems.
Published Version: doi:10.3389/fmicb.2013.00110
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10646404
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