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A marine microbial consortium apparently mediating anaerobic oxidation of methane

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Boetius,  Antje
HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep Sea Ecology & Technology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Ravenschlag,  Katrin
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Schubert,  Carsten J.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Widdel,  Friedrich
Department of Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Gieseke,  Armin
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Amann,  Rudolf I.
Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Jørgensen,  Bo Barker
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Witte,  Ursula
Flux Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Boetius, A., Ravenschlag, K., Schubert, C. J., Rickert, D., Widdel, F., Gieseke, A., et al. (2000). A marine microbial consortium apparently mediating anaerobic oxidation of methane. Nature, 407, 623-626.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5D91-0
Abstract
A large fraction of globally produced methane is converted to CO2 by anaerobic oxidation in marine sediments1. Strong geochemical evidence for net methane consumption in anoxic sediments is based on methane profiles2, radiotracer experiments3 and stable carbon isotope data4. But the elusive microorganisms mediating this reaction have not yet been isolated, and the pathway of anaerobic oxidation of methane is insufficiently understood. Recent data suggest that certain archaea reverse the process of methanogenesis by interaction with sulphate-reducing bacteria5,6,7. Here we provide microscopic evidence for a structured consortium of archaea and sulphate-reducing bacteria, which we identified by fluorescence in situ hybridization using specific 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes. In this example of a structured archaeal-bacterial symbiosis, the archaea grow in dense aggregates of about 100 cells and are surrounded by sulphate-reducing bacteria. These aggregates were abundant in gas-hydrate-rich sediments with extremely high rates of methane-based sulphate reduction, and apparently mediate anaerobic oxidation of methane.