Methanogenesis in Soils, Wetlands, and Peat

  • O. R. KotsyurbenkoEmail author
  • M. V. Glagolev
  • A. Y. Merkel
  • A. F. Sabrekov
  • I. E. Terentieva
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Soil is the naturally occurring rock particles and decaying organic matter (humus) on the surface of the Earth, capable of supporting life. It has three components: solid, liquid, and gas. The solid phase is a mixture of mineral and organic matter. Wetlands are areas on which water covers the soil or where water is present either at or near the surface of that soil. Wetlands often host considerable biodiversity and endemism. Their hydrological conditions are characterized by an absence of free oxygen sometimes or always. It favors the development of anaerobic microbial community. In the absence of electron acceptors other than bicarbonate, methane is the end product of organic matter degradation in wetland ecosystems. It makes wetlands important sources of the greenhouse gas CH4 in the context of the problem of global climate changes. Peatlands are a type of wetlands and form when plant material is inhibited from decaying by acidic and anaerobic conditions.

Methane production in peatlands tends to vary tremendously both spatially and temporally and depends on environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and water table, as well as plant cover. In anaerobic peat, acetate and CO2 are the most quantitatively important CH4 precursors. Most studies suggest that acetoclastic methanogenesis is an important pathway for CH4 formation in nutrient-rich fens covered with Carex sedges, whereas CO2 reduction is an important methanogenic pathway in Sphagnum-dominated bogs. Such bogs, the predominant peatlands, are typically acidic (pH < 5) with low concentrations of mineral nutrients. The Sphagnum bog microbes seem to have special metabolic mechanisms to cope with low-mineral and diluted nonbuffered solutions. As a whole, the soil microbial community in wetlands plays an important role in biogeochemical cycles and is crucial to the functions of wetland systems. Research on the diversity and abundance microorganisms in wetlands rapidly develops owing to the advantages of molecular biological methods. The insights into the microbial community functioning and adaptation mechanisms in wetlands provide a valuable background for studies on biotechnological applications of microorganisms inhabiting these ecosystems.



We would like to thank Dr. S.N. Dedysh for her valuable advices during the preparation of this manuscript.

This work was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (17-17-01204).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. R. Kotsyurbenko
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. V. Glagolev
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • A. Y. Merkel
    • 6
  • A. F. Sabrekov
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • I. E. Terentieva
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Yugra State UniversityKhanty-MansiyskRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Tomsk State UniversityTomskRussia
  4. 4.Institute of Forest Sciences of the Russian Academy of SciencesUspenskoeRussia
  5. 5.Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  6. 6.Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology, Research Center of Biotechnology of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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