Plant and Soil , 1-16 ( 2021)
AimsMicrobial activity in the soil of wetlands is responsible for the emission of more methane to the atmosphere than all other natural sources combined. This microbial activity is heavily impacted by plant roots, which influence the microbial community by exuding organic compounds and by leaking oxygen into an otherwise anoxic environment. This study compared the microbial communities of planted and unplanted wetland soil from an Alaskan bog to elucidate how plant growth influences populations and metabolisms of methanogens and methanotrophs.MethodsA common boreal wetland sedge, Carex aquatilis, was grown in the laboratory and DNA samples were sequenced from the rhizosphere, unplanted bulk soil, and a simulated rhizosphere with oxygen input but no organic carbon.ResultsThe abundance of both methanogens and methanotrophs were positively correlated with methane emissions. Among the methanotrophs, both aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidizing microbes were more common in the rhizosphere of mature plants than in unplanted soil, while facultative methanotrophs capable of utilizing either methane or other molecules became relatively less common.ConclusionsThese trends indicate that the roots in this experiment created an environment which favored highly specialized microbial metabolisms over generalist approaches. One aspect of this specialized microbiome is the presence of both aerobic and anaerobic metabolisms, which indicates that oxygen is present but is a limiting resource controlling competition.