Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 471–481 | Cite as

Anaerobic Metabolism in Tidal Freshwater Wetlands: II. Effects of Plant Removal on Archaeal Microbial Communities

  • David Emerson
  • Wendy Bellows
  • Jason K. Keller
  • Craig L. Moyer
  • Ariana Sutton-Grier
  • J. Patrick Megonigal


The interaction of plant and microbial communities are known to influence the dynamics of methane emission in wetlands. Plant manipulations were conducted in an organic rich (JB-organic) and a mineral rich (JB-mineral) site in a tidal freshwater wetland to determine if plant removal impacted archaeal populations. In concert, a suite of process-based measurements also determined the effects of plant removal on rates of methanogenesis and Fe-reduction. The microbial populations were analyzed with clone libraries of the SSU ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene from selected plots, and terminal restriction length polymorphism (tRFLP) of the SSU rRNA and the methyl-coenzyme M reductase (mcrA) gene. Overall, methanogenesis dominated anaerobic carbon mineralization at both sites during the most active growing season. A total of 114 SSU rRNA clones from four different plots revealed a diversity of Euryarchaeota including representatives of the Methanomicrobiales, Methanosarcinales and Thermoplasmatales. The clone libraries were dominated by the Thaumarchaeota, accounting for 65 % of clones, although their diversity was low. A total of 112 tRFLP profiles were generated from 56 samples from 25 subplots; the patterns for both SSU rRNA and mcrA showed little variation between sites, either with plant treatment or with the growing season. Overall these results suggest that wetland soil archaeal populations were resilient to changes in the associated surface plant communities. The work also revealed the presence of novel, mesophilic Thaumarchaeota of unknown metabolic function.


Anaerobic microbial metabolism Methane Methanogen Thaumarchaeota Euryarchaeota Tidal freshwater wetland 



We are indebted to Dr. Emily Fleming and Dr. Joyce McBeth for assistance and advice in developing phylogenetic trees. Chris Swarth at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary allowed unfettered access to our research sites for this project and provided important background references about the Jug Bay ecosystem. We thank Jim Duls, Nicholas Mudd, and Todd Plaia for assistance with field component of this work and laboratory work on this project. The editorial comments of Chris Swarth and Aat Barendregt, as well as two anonymous reviewers, are greatly appreciated. This research was supported by collaborative NSF grant 0516400 to JPM and DE and Smithsonian Post-Doctoral Fellowships to JKK and AESG.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Emerson
    • 1
  • Wendy Bellows
    • 1
  • Jason K. Keller
    • 2
  • Craig L. Moyer
    • 3
  • Ariana Sutton-Grier
    • 4
  • J. Patrick Megonigal
    • 4
  1. 1.Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean SciencesEast BoothbayUSA
  2. 2.Chapman UniversityOrangeUSA
  3. 3.Western Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA
  4. 4.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA

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