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Published October 2014 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Carbonate-hosted methanotrophy represents an unrecognized methane sink in the deep sea


The atmospheric flux of methane from the oceans is largely mitigated through microbially mediated sulphate-coupled methane oxidation, resulting in the precipitation of authigenic carbonates. Deep-sea carbonates are common around active and palaeo-methane seepage, and have primarily been viewed as passive recorders of methane oxidation; their role as active and unique microbial habitats capable of continued methane consumption has not been examined. Here we show that seep-associated carbonates harbour active microbial communities, serving as dynamic methane sinks. Microbial aggregate abundance within the carbonate interior exceeds that of seep sediments, and molecular diversity surveys reveal methanotrophic communities within protolithic nodules and well-lithified carbonate pavements. Aggregations of microbial cells within the carbonate matrix actively oxidize methane as indicated by stable isotope FISH–nanoSIMS experiments and ^(14)CH_4 radiotracer rate measurements. Carbonate-hosted methanotrophy extends the known ecological niche of these important methane consumers and represents a previously unrecognized methane sink that warrants consideration in global methane budgets.

Additional Information

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 24 March 2014; Accepted 28 August 2014; Published 14 October 2014. We thank the Captains, Crew, Alvin group, Jason group and Science party members from RV Atlantis legs AT-15-11, AT-15-44, AT-15-59, AT-15-68 and AT-18-10. Patricia Tavormina and Stephanie Connon kindly helped with pmo analysis and molecular cloning procedures, and Olivia Mason prepared the 16S rRNA gene clone library sequences for A.Nod-2518. Anne Dekas, Abigail Green-Saxena and Yunbin Guan aided with nanoSIMS operation, and Alex Parker assisted with porosity and permeability measurements. Shawn McGlynn, Roland Hatzenpichler, Jennifer Glass, Kat Dawson, Hank Yu, David Case and Hiroyuki Imachi provided useful comments throughout the experimentation and writing process. This study was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (OCE-0825791 and OCE-0939559), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Institute (award #NNA04CC06A and #NNA13AA92A) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative Grant #3780, to V.J.O. J.J.M. was partially supported by a National Energy Technology Laboratory Methane Hydrate Research Fellowship funded by the National Research Council of the National Academies. NCBI Reference Sequence: KF616507; KF616827

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Supplemental Material - ncomms6094-s1.pdf

Supplemental Material - ncomms6094-s2.xlsx

Supplemental Material - ncomms6094-s3.xlsx

Supplemental Material - ncomms6094-s4.xlsx


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