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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Jan;9(1):223-37.

Identification of acetate-utilizing Bacteria and Archaea in methanogenic profundal sediments of Lake Kinneret (Israel) by stable isotope probing of rRNA.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.


Acetate is an important intermediate in the decomposition of organic matter in anoxic freshwater sediments. Here, we identified distinct microorganisms active in its oxidation and transformation to methane in the anoxic methanogenic layers of Lake Kinneret (Israel) profundal sediment by rRNA-based stable isotope probing (RNA-SIP). After 18 days of incubation with amended [U-(13)C]acetate we found that archaeal 16S rRNA was (13)C-labelled to a far greater extent than bacterial rRNA. We identified acetoclastic methanogens related to Methanosaeta concilii as being most active in the degradation and assimilation of acetate. Oxidation of the acetate-methyl group played only a minor role, but nevertheless 'heavy'(13)C-labelled bacterial rRNA templates were identified. 'Heavy' bacteria were mainly affiliated with the Betaproteobacteria (mostly Rhodocyclales and Nitrosomonadales), the Nitrospira phylum (related to 'Magnetobacterium bavaricum' and Thermodesulfovibrio yellowstonii), and also with the candidate phylum 'Endomicrobia'. However, the mode of energy gain that allowed for the assimilation of (13)C-acetate by these bacterial groups remains unknown. It may have involved syntrophic oxidation of acetate, reduction of chlorinated compounds, reduction of humic substances, fermentation of organic compounds, or even predation of (13)C-labelled Methanosaeta spp. In summary, this SIP experiment shows that acetate carbon was predominantly consumed by acetoclastic methanogens in profundal Lake Kinneret sediment, while it was also utilized by a small and heterogeneous community of bacteria.

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