Methanethiol-dependent dimethylsulfide production in soil environments

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Dimethylsulfide (DMS) is an environmentally important trace gas with roles in sulfur cycling, signalling to higher organisms and in atmospheric chemistry. DMS is believed to be predominantly produced in marine environments via microbial degradation of the osmolyte dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). However, significant amounts of DMS are also generated from terrestrial environments, for example, peat bogs can emit ~6 μmol DMS m−2 per day, likely via the methylation of methanethiol (MeSH). A methyltransferase enzyme termed ‘MddA’, which catalyses the methylation of MeSH, generating DMS, in a wide range of bacteria and some cyanobacteria, may mediate this process, as the mddA gene is abundant in terrestrial metagenomes. This is the first study investigating the functionality of MeSH-dependent DMS production (Mdd) in a wide range of aerobic environments. All soils and marine sediment samples tested produced DMS when incubated with MeSH. Cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent methods were used to assess microbial community changes in response to MeSH addition in a grassland soil where 35.9% of the bacteria were predicted to contain mddA. Bacteria of the genus Methylotenera were enriched in the presence of MeSH. Furthermore, many novel Mdd+ bacterial strains were isolated. Despite the abundance of mddA in the grassland soil, the Mdd pathway may not be a significant source of DMS in this environment as MeSH addition was required to detect DMS at only very low conversion rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2379–2390
Number of pages12
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number10
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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