Methane assimilation and trophic interactions with marine Methylomicrobium in deep-water coral reef sediment off the coast of Norway

Sigmund Jensen, Josh D. Neufeld, Nils-Kåre Birkeland, Martin Hovland, John Colin Murrell

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Deep-water coral reefs are seafloor environments with diverse biological communities surrounded by cold permanent darkness. Sources of energy and carbon for the nourishment of these reefs are presently unclear. We investigated one aspect of the food web using DNA stable-isotope probing (DNA-SIP). Sediment from beneath a Lophelia pertusa reef off the coast of Norway was incubated until assimilation of 5 µmol 13CH4 g-1 wet weight occurred. Extracted DNA was separated into ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ fractions for analysis of labelling. Bacterial community fingerprinting of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments revealed two predominant 13C-specific bands. Sequencing of these bands indicated that carbon from 13CH4 had been assimilated by a Methylomicrobium and an uncultivated member of the Gammaproteobacteria. Cloning and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes from the heavy DNA, in addition to genes encoding particulate methane monooxygenase and methanol dehydrogenase, all linked Methylomicrobium with methane metabolism. Putative cross-feeders were affiliated with Methylophaga (Gammaproteobacteria), Hyphomicrobium (Alphaproteobacteria) and previously unrecognized methylotrophs of the Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Deferribacteres and Bacteroidetes. This first marine methane SIP study provides evidence for the presence of methylotrophs that participate in sediment food webs associated with deep-water coral reefs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-330
Number of pages11
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

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