Seasonal variations in methane (CH4) consumption
Wetland ecosystems are the most important and prolific natural methane (CH4) sources. CH4 constantly moves in and out of these regions (flows), and this flow fluctuates periodically. Methanogens (methane producers) and methanotrophs (methane consumers) are microorganisms that influence CH4 flows in wetlands. However, the mutual or symbiotic relationship between methanogens and methanotrophs remains unclear. Biologists and atmospheric scientists see a crucial opportunity to explore patterns of co-occurrence of methanogen and methanotroph populations and their influences on natural CH4 flow.
Prof. Jiwen GE and his team members representing the Basin Hydrology and Wetland Eco-restoration Laboratory, the Wuhan/Hubei Wetland Ecological Evolution and Restoration Key Laboratory and the Institution of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of Wuhan, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, investigated the variables that influence seasonal variations between the influence of methanogenic and methanotrophic communities on wetland CH4 emissions. Through biological (phylogenetic) network analysis, they identified a keystone species that plays a central role in mediating CH4 flow. Their full study is now available in Advances in atmospheric science.
The team adapted a turbulent covariance (EC) system used to study microclimatological gas exchange to analyze seasonal methane flux data. EC systems are capable of long-term CH (years or even decades)4 flow measurements without disturbing the surrounding environment. Then they identified the keystone CH4 the mediation of microorganism species using phylogenetic molecular ecological network (pMENs) analysis, which biologists typically use to determine the evolutionary development of a group of organisms and their characteristics.
The researchers combined methanogenic and methanotrophic pMEN to analyze how the functions of methanogenic and methanotrophic communities behave differently from season to season. In addition to pMEN, they used correlation analysis methods to demonstrate the interrelationships between several environmental factors, including methane metabolic microbes and CH4 flow.
The study provided substantial evidence that explains seasonal trends and microbial driving mechanisms of CH4 emissions in wetlands. These data can provide scientific support for wetland management and sustainable, carbon-neutral development near these biodiversity-rich regions.
In order to prepare for future research, the team calculates and analyzes methane fluxes over long periods (five years or more). However, further research involving metagenomic sequencing (multiple communities of organisms) is needed to analyze the impact of microbes on methane fluxes.
Advances in atmospheric science
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