Methane fluxes and the functional groups of methanotrophs and methanogens in a young Arctic landscape on Disko Island, West Greenland
Arctic soils are known to be important methane (CH4) consumers and sources. This study integrates in situ fluxes of CH4 between upland and wetland soils with potential rates of CH4 oxidation and production as well as abundance and diversity of the methanotrophs and methanogens measured with pyrosequencing of 16S DNA and rRNA fragments in soil and permafrost layers. Here, the spatial patterns of in situ CH4 fluxes for a 2,000 years old Arctic landscape in West Greenland reveal similar CH4 uptake rates (−4 ± 0.3 μmol m−2 h−1) as in other Arctic sites, but lower CH4 emissions (14 ± 1.5 μmol m−2 h−1) at wetland sites compared to other Arctic wetlands. Potential CH4 oxidation was similar for upland and wetland soils, but the wetter soils produced more CH4 in active and permafrost layers. Accordingly, the abundance of methanogenic archaea was highest in wetland soils. The methanotrophic community also differed between upland and wetland soils, with predominant activity of Type II methanotrophs in the active layer for upland soils, but only Type I methanotrophs for the wetland. In the permafrost of upland and wetland soils, activity of the methanotrophs belonging to Type I and Type II as well as methanogens were detected. This study indicates that the magnitude of CH4 oxidation and the direction of the flux, i.e. uptake or emission, are linked to different methanotrophic communities in upland and wetland soils. Also, the observed link between production/consumption rates and the microbial abundance and activity indicates that the age of an Arctic landscape is not important for the CH4 consumption but can be very important for CH4 production. Considering the prevalence of dry landscapes and contrasting ages of high Arctic soils, our results highlight that well-drained soils should not be overlooked as an important component of Arctic net CH4 budget.