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Methane Production in Soil Environments—Anaerobic Biogeochemistry and Microbial Life between Flooding and Desiccation

Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Str. 10, 35043 Marburg, Germany
Microorganisms 2020, 8(6), 881; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8060881
Received: 27 May 2020 / Revised: 8 June 2020 / Accepted: 9 June 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Cycling of Atmospheric Trace Gases)
Flooding and desiccation of soil environments mainly affect the availability of water and oxygen. While water is necessary for all life, oxygen is required for aerobic microorganisms. In the absence of O2, anaerobic processes such as CH4 production prevail. There is a substantial theoretical knowledge of the biogeochemistry and microbiology of processes in the absence of O2. Noteworthy are processes involved in the sequential degradation of organic matter coupled with the sequential reduction of electron acceptors, and, finally, the formation of CH4. These processes follow basic thermodynamic and kinetic principles, but also require the presence of microorganisms as catalysts. Meanwhile, there is a lot of empirical data that combines the observation of process function with the structure of microbial communities. While most of these observations confirmed existing theoretical knowledge, some resulted in new information. One important example was the observation that methanogens, which have been believed to be strictly anaerobic, can tolerate O2 to quite some extent and thus survive desiccation of flooded soil environments amazingly well. Another example is the strong indication of the importance of redox-active soil organic carbon compounds, which may affect the rates and pathways of CH4 production. It is noteworthy that drainage and aeration turns flooded soils, not generally, into sinks for atmospheric CH4, probably due to the peculiarities of the resident methanotrophic bacteria. View Full-Text
Keywords: methanogenesis; rice field soil; lake sediment; drainage; microbial community methanogenesis; rice field soil; lake sediment; drainage; microbial community
MDPI and ACS Style

Conrad, R. Methane Production in Soil Environments—Anaerobic Biogeochemistry and Microbial Life between Flooding and Desiccation. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 881.

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