International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Origin and fate of methane in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific oxygen minimum zone

AUTHORS: Panagiota-Myrsini Chronopoulou, Felicity Shelley, William J Pritchard, Susanna T Maanoja & Mark Trimmer ABSTRACT: Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) contain the largest pools of oceanic methane but its origin and fate are poorly understood. High-resolution (<15 m) water column profiles revealed a 300 m thick layer of elevated methane (20–105 nM) in the anoxic core of the largest OMZ, the Eastern Tropical North Pacific. Sediment core incubations identified a clear benthic methane source where the OMZ meets the continental shelf, between 350 and 650 m, with the flux reflecting the concentration of methane in the overlying anoxic water. Further incubations characterised a methanogenic potential in the presence of both porewater sulphate and nitrate of up to 88 nmol g−1day−1 in the sediment surface layer. In these methane-producing sediments, the majority (85%) of methyl coenzyme M reductase alpha subunit (mcrA) gene sequences clustered with Methanosarcinaceae (96% similarity to Methanococcoides sp.), a family capable of performing non-competitive methanogenesis. Incubations with 13C-CH4 showed potential for both aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidation in the waters within and above the OMZ. Both aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidation is corroborated by the presence of particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoA) gene sequences, related to type I methanotrophs and the lineage of Candidatus Methylomirabilis oxyfera, known to perform nitrite-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (N-DAMO), respectively. Published in the ISME Journal 11, pages 1386–1399 (2017). This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

13 May 2019

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Origin and fate of methane in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific oxygen minimum zone.pdf