Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

VCU Rice Rivers Center Research Symposium

Date of Submission

June 2016


Tidal freshwater wetlands (TFW), which lie at the interface of saltwater and freshwater ecosystems, are predicted to experience moderate salinity increases due to sea level rise. Increases in salinity generally suppress CH4 production, but it is uncertain to what extent elevated salinity will affect CH4 cycling in TFW. It is also unknown whether CH4 production will resume when freshwater conditions return. The ability to produce CH4 is limited to a monophyletic group of the Euryarchaeota phylum called methanogens (MG), who are limited to a small number of substrates (e.g., acetate, H2, and formate) produced from the breakdown of fermentation products. In freshwater anaerobic soils, the degradation of certain fermentation products (e.g., butyrate, propionate) is only energetically favorable when their catabolic byproduct, H2 or formate, is consumed to low concentrations by MGs. This is considered a form of obligate syntrophy. Sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) are capable of utilizing a larger variety of substrates than MG, including substrates degraded by methanogenic syntrophy (e.g., butyrate, propionate). The introduction of sulfate (SO4 -2) into TFW via saltwater intrusion events may allow SRB to disrupt syntrophic relationships between hydrogenotrophic MG and syntrophic fermenters. This may select for MG taxa that differ in their rate of CH4 production. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of oligohaline SO4 -2 concentrations on MG community functions (i.e., CH4 production and syntrophic butyrate degradation); and, to assess whether these functions recover after competition with SRB has been removed.


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VCU Rice Rivers Center Research Symposium