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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2005 Jun 1;53(1):89-101.

Archaeal communities in High Arctic wetlands at Spitsbergen, Norway (78 degrees N) as characterized by 16S rRNA gene fingerprinting.

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Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Jahnebakken 5, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.


Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from Arctic wetlands have been studied extensively, though little is known about the ecology and community structure of methanogenic archaea that catalyze the methane production. As part of a project addressing microbial transformations of methane in Arctic wetlands, we studied archaeal communities in two wetlands (Solvatnet and Stuphallet) at Spitsbergen, Norway (78 degrees N) during two summer seasons. Directly extracted peat community DNA and enrichment cultures of methanogenic archaea were analyzed by nested PCR combined with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and subsequent sequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments. Sequences affiliated with Methanomicrobiales, Methanobacteriaceae, Methanosaeta and Group I.3b of the uncultured crenarchaeota were detected at both sites. Sequences affiliated with Methanosarcina were recovered only from the site Solvatnet, while sequences affiliated with the euryarchaeotal clusters Rice Cluster II and Sediment 1 were detected only at the site Stuphallet. The phylogenetic affiliation of the recovered sequences suggested a potential of both hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenesis at both sites. At Solvatnet, there were clear temporal trends in the archaeal community structure over the Arctic summer season. The archaeal community composition was significantly affected by factors influencing the activity of the overall bacterial community, as measured by in situ emissions of CO2. Methane emissions at both sites were influenced more by peat temperatures and thaw depth than by the archaeal community structure. Enrichment cultures for methanogenic archaea determined that most of the methanogens detected directly in peat could grow in culture at 10 degrees C. Culture based biases were indicated in later enrichment steps by the abundant growth of a Methanosarcina strain that was not detected directly in peat samples.

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