Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 491–499 | Cite as

Stimulation of methane oxidation by CH4-emitting rose chafer larvae in well-aerated grassland soil

  • Claudia Kammann
  • Stefan Ratering
  • Carolyn-Monika Görres
  • Cécile Guillet
  • Christoph Müller
Short Communication


In this study, the impact of rose chafer (Cetonia aurata L.) larvae on net and gross methane (CH4) fluxes in soil from an old permanent grassland site (Giessen, Germany) was investigated. Previous studies at this site suggested the existence of Scarabaeidae larvae-induced “CH4-emitting hot spots” within the soil profile which may subsequently lead to increased CH4 oxidation. The net (soil + larvae) and gross (soil and larvae separated) CH4 fluxes were studied in a 3-month laboratory incubation. Addition of larvae changed the soil from a net sink (−330 ± 11 ng CH4 kg−1 h−1) to a net source (637 ± 205 ng CH4 kg−1 h−1). Supply of plant litter to the soil + larvae incubation jars tended to increase CH4 emissions which was not significant due to large variability. After 11–13 weeks of incubation, the net soil CH4 oxidation was significantly stimulated by 13–21% in the treatments containing larvae when these were taken out. Analysis of archaeal 16S rRNA genes revealed that the majority of the obtained clones were closely related to uncultured methanogens from guts of insects and other animals. Other sequences were relative to cultivated species of Methanobrevibacter, Methanoculleus, and Methanosarcina. Hence, Scarabaeidae larvae in soils (i) may represent an underestimated source of CH4 emissions in aerobic upland soils, (ii) may stimulate gross CH4 consumption in their direct soil environment, and, thus, (iii) contribute to the spatial heterogeneity often observed in the field with closed-chamber measurements. Long-term CH4-flux balances may be wrongly assessed when “exceptional” net CH4 flux rates (due to larvae hot spots) are excluded from data sets.


Scarabaeidae larvae Cetonia aurata Methane production Stimulation of CH4 consumption Methanogenic Archaea Grassland soil 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, WG Climate Change Research for Special CropsHochschule Geisenheim UniversityGeisenheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of Plant EcologyUniversity GießenGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Applied MicrobiologyUniversity GießenGiessenGermany
  4. 4.School of Biology and Environmental Science and Earth Science InstituteUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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