Articles | Volume 9, issue 12
Research article
05 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 05 Dec 2012

Aerobic methanotrophy within the pelagic redox-zone of the Gotland Deep (central Baltic Sea)

O. Schmale, M. Blumenberg, K. Kießlich, G. Jakobs, C. Berndmeyer, M. Labrenz, V. Thiel, and G. Rehder

Abstract. Water column samples taken in summer 2008 from the stratified Gotland Deep (central Baltic Sea) showed a strong gradient in dissolved methane concentrations from high values in the saline deep water (max. 504 nM) to low concentrations in the less dense, brackish surface water (about 4 nM). The steep methane-gradient (between 115 and 135 m water depth) within the redox-zone, which separates the anoxic deep part from the oxygenated surface water (oxygen concentration 0–0.8 mL L−1), implies a methane consumption rate of 0.28 nM d−1. The process of microbial methane oxidation within this zone was evident by a shift of the stable carbon isotope ratio of methane between the bottom water (δ13C CH4 = −82.4‰ and the redox-zone (δ13C CH4 = −38.7‰. Water column samples between 80 and 119 m were studied to identify the microorganisms responsible for the methane turnover in that depth interval. Notably, methane monooxygenase gene expression analyses for water depths covering the whole redox-zone demonstrated that accordant methanotrophic activity was probably due to only one phylotype of the aerobic type I methanotrophic bacteria. An imprint of these organisms on the particular organic matter was revealed by distinctive lipid biomarkers showing bacteriohopanepolyols and lipid fatty acids characteristic for aerobic type I methanotrophs (e.g., 35-aminobacteriohopane-30,31,32,33,34-pentol), corroborating their role in aerobic methane oxidation in the redox-zone of the central Baltic Sea.

Final-revised paper