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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2007 Aug;61(2):337-47.

Cellulolytic, fermentative, and methanogenic guilds in benthic periphyton mats from the Florida Everglades.

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  • 1Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0290, USA.


Phosphorus enrichment caused by runoff from agricultural areas has resulted in ecosystem-level changes in the northern Florida Everglades, including a loss of periphyton mats from nutrient-impacted areas. The potential for methanogenesis resulting from the anaerobic decomposition of cellulose and fermentation products, and the microorganisms responsible for these processes, were studied in mats from a region not impacted by nutrient enrichment. Methane was produced from periphyton incubated with cellulose, propionate, butyrate, and formate, with an accumulation of fatty acids in incubations. The accumulation of fatty acids may have been caused by the inhibition of syntrophic oxidation, a potentially significant route for methane production in soils. Sequence analysis of 16S rRNA genes characteristic of Clostridium, the primary genus responsible for anaerobic decomposition and fermentation in soils of the area, indicated that Clostridium Cluster I assemblages present in the mat differed from those in the soils of the area. Significantly, sequences characteristic of the Clostridium group that dominates the soils of the area, group XIV, were not detected in the mat. These results indicate that benthic periphyton is probably a significant source of methane in the Everglades, and the responsible microorganisms differ significantly from those in the soils of the area.

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