Aquatic Microbiology

Lake bacteria make methane from P

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Science  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 717-718
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6313.717-e

Freshwater lakes are a major contributor of methane to the atmosphere—more so than the world's oceans combined. Some anaerobic microorganisms produce methane in sediments or deep anoxic water, but methane can also be produced biologically in oxic surface water. In the upper layers of methane-supersaturated Lake Matano, Indonesia, Yao et al. find that bacterial methane production is linked to phosphorus availability. Heterotrophic bacteria break down methylphosphonate as a phosphorus source, releasing methane in the process. Methane production decreases in culture when phosphate is added. Models for methane emissions from lakes should therefore incorporate nutrient availability in oxic water columns as another potential factor to help improve global methane predictions.

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 10.1128/AEM.02399-16 (2016).

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