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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1979 Feb;37(2):244-53.

Anaerobic metabolism of immediate methane precursors in Lake Mendota.


Lake Mendota sediments and the immediate overlying water column were studied to better understand the metabolism of the methanogenic precursors H2/CO2 and acetate in nature. The pool size of acetate (3.5 microns M) was very small, and the acetate turnover time (0.22h) was very rapid. The dissolved inorganic carbon pool was shown to be large (6.4 to 8.3 mM), and the turnover time was slow (111 H.). CO2 was shown to account for 41 +/- 5.5% of the methane produced in sediment. Acetate and H2/CO2 were simultaneously converted to CH4. The addition of H2 to sediments resulted in an increase specific activity of CH4 from H(14)CO3- and a decrease in specific activity of CH4 from [2-14C]acetate. Acetate addition resulted in a decrease in specific activity of CH4 from H(14)CO3-. The metabolism of H(14)CO3- or [2-14C]acetate to 14CH4 was not inhibited by addition of acetate or H2. After greater than 99% of added [2-14C]acetate had been turned over, 42% of the label was recovered as 14CH4 20% was recovered as 14CO2 and 38% was incorporated into sediment. Inhibitor studies of [2-14C]acetate metabolism in sediments demonstrated that CHCl3 completely inhibited CH4 formation, but not CO2 production. Air and nitrate addition inhibited CH4 formation and stimulated CO2 production, whereas fluoroacetate addition totally inhibited acetate metabolism. The oxidation of [2-14C]acetate to 14CO2 was shown to decrease with time when sediment was incubated before the addition of label, suggesting depletion of low levels of an endogenous sediment electron acceptor. Acetate metabolism varied seasonally and was related to the concentration of sulfate in the lake and interstitial water. Methanogenesis occurred in the sediment and in the water immediately overlying the sediment during period of lake stratification and several centimeters below the sediment-water interface during lake turnovers. These data indicate that methanogenesis in Lake Mendota sediments was limited by "immediate" methane precursor availability (i.e., acetate and H2), by competition for these substrates by nonmethanogens, and by seasonal variations which altered sediment and water chemistry.

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