Seasonal variability in microbial methanol utilisation in coastal waters of the western English Channel

S. L. Sargeant, J. C. Murrell, P. D. Nightingale, J. L. Dixon

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Methanol is ubiquitous in seawater and the most abundant oxygenated volatile organic compound (OVOC) in the atmosphere where it influences oxidising capacity and ozone formation. Marine methylotrophic bacteria utilise methanol in seawater both as an energy and/or growth substrate. This work represents the first fully resolved seasonal study of marine microbial methanol uptake dynamics. Rates of microbial methanol dissimilation in coastal surface waters of the UK varied between 0.7 – 11.2 nmol l-1 h-1 and reached a maximum in February. Rates of microbial methanol assimilation varied between 0.04 – 2.64 x 10-2 nmol l-1 h-1 and reached a maximum in August. Temporal variability in microbial methanol uptake rates shows that methanol assimilation and dissimilation display opposing seasonal cycles, although overall <1% of methanol was assimilated. Correlative approaches with 16S rRNA pyrosequencing data suggested that bacteria of the SAR11 clade and Rhodobacterales could be significantly influencing rates of methanol dissimilation and assimilation, respectively, at station L4 in the western English Channel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2016


  • 14CH3OH
  • bacterial growth efficiency
  • methanol uptake
  • methylotrophic bacteria
  • marine

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