Northern acidic peatlands are important sources of atmospheric methane, yet the methanogens in them are poorly characterized. We examined methanogenic activities and methanogen populations at different depths in two peatlands, McLean bog (MB) and Chicago bog (CB). Both have acidic (pH 3.5-4.5) peat soils, but the pH of the deeper layers of CB is near-neutral, reflecting its previous existence as a neutral-pH fen. Acetotrophic and hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis could be stimulated in upper samples from both bogs, and phylotypes of methanogens using H2/CO2 (Methanomicrobiales) or acetate (Methanosarcinales) were identified in 16S rRNA gene clone libraries and by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analyses using a novel primer/restriction enzyme set that we developed. Particularly dominant in the upper layers was a clade in the Methanomicrobiales, called E2 here and the R10 or fen group elsewhere, estimated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction to be present at ∼108 cells per gram of dry peat. Methanogenic activity was considerably lower in deeper samples from both bogs. The methanogen populations detected by T-RFLP in deeper portions of MB were mainly E2 and the uncultured euryarchaeal rice cluster (RC)-II group, whereas populations in the less acidic CB deep layers were considerably different, and included a Methanomicrobiales clade we call E1-E1′, as well as RC-I, RC-II, marine benthic group D, and a new cluster that we call the subaqueous cluster. E2 was barely detectable in the deeper samples from CB, further evidence for the associations of most organisms in this group with acidic habitats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics