Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 8, 1267–1278, 2011
Biogeosciences, 8, 1267–1278, 2011

Research article 24 May 2011

Research article | 24 May 2011

The role of endophytic methane-oxidizing bacteria in submerged Sphagnum in determining methane emissions of Northeastern Siberian tundra

F. J. W. Parmentier1,2, J. van Huissteden1, N. Kip3, H. J. M. Op den Camp3, M. S. M. Jetten3, T. C. Maximov4, and A. J. Dolman1 F. J. W. Parmentier et al.
  • 1Department of Hydrology and Geo-environmental Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, de Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2Division of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Department of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
  • 3Department of Microbiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Faculty of Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 AJ, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • 4BioGeochemical Cycles of Permafrost Ecosystems Lab, Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone SB RAS, Lenin ave. 41, 677980, Yakutsk, Russia

Abstract. The role of the microbial processes governing methane emissions from tundra ecosystems is receiving increasing attention. Recently, cooperation between methanotrophic bacteria and submerged Sphagnum was shown to reduce methane emissions but also to supply CO2 for photosynthesis for the plant. Although this process was shown to be important in the laboratory, the differences that exist in methane emissions from inundated vegetation types with or without Sphagnum in the field have not been linked to these bacteria before.

In this study, chamber flux measurements, an incubation study and a process model were used to investigate the drivers and controls on the relative difference in methane emissions between a submerged Sphagnum/sedge vegetation type and an inundated sedge vegetation type without Sphagnum. It was found that methane emissions in the Sphagnum-dominated vegetation type were 50 % lower than in the vegetation type without Sphagnum. A model sensitivity analysis showed that these differences could not sufficiently be explained by differences in methane production and plant transport. The model, combined with an incubation study, indicated that methane oxidation by endophytic bacteria, living in cooperation with submerged Sphagnum, plays a significant role in methane cycling at this site. This result is important for spatial upscaling as oxidation by these bacteria is likely involved in 15 % of the net methane emissions at this tundra site. Our findings support the notion that methane-oxidizing bacteria are an important factor in understanding the processes behind methane emissions in tundra.

Final-revised paper