Delineating the Drivers and Functionality of Methanogenic Niches within an Arid Landfill

Mark C. Reynolds, Damien Finn, Analissa F. Sarno, Richard Allen, J. David Deathrage, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Microbial communities mediate the transformation of organic matter within landfills into methane (CH4). Yet their ecological role in CH4 production is rarely evaluated. To characterize the microbiome associated with this biotransformation, the overall community and methanogenic Archaea were surveyed in an arid landfill using leachate collected from distinctly aged landfill cells (i.e., younger, intermediate, and older). We hypothesized that distinct methanogenic niches exist within an arid landfill, driven by geochemical gradients that developed under extended and age-dependent waste biodegradation stages. Using 16S rRNA and mcrA gene amplicon sequencing, we identified putative methanogenic niches as follows. The order Methanomicrobiales was the most abundant order in leachate from younger cells, where leachate temperature and propionate concentrations were measured at 41.8°C 6 1.7°C and 57.1 6 10.7 mg L21. In intermediate-aged cells, the family Methanocellaceae was identified as a putative specialist family under intermediate-temperature and -total dissolved solid (TDS) conditions, wherein samples had a higher alpha diversity index and near CH4 concentrations. In older-aged cells, accumulating metals and TDS supported Methanocorpusculaceae, "Candidatus Bathyarchaeota,"and "Candidatus Verstraetearchaeota"operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Consistent with the mcrA data, we assayed methanogenic activity across the age gradient through stable isotopic measurements of d 13C of CH4 and d 13C of CO2. The majority (80%) of the samples' carbon fractionation was consistent with hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Together, we report age-dependent geochemical gradients detected through leachate in an arid landfill seemingly influencing CH4 production, niche partitioning, and methanogenic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2022


  • biogeochemistry
  • geochemistry
  • landfill
  • leachate
  • methane
  • methanogens
  • microbiome
  • niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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