Soil-methanogen interactions in two peatlands (Bog, Fen) in central New York State

Mark D. Dettling, Joseph B. Yavitt, Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz, Christine Sun, Stephen H. Zinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Rates of methanogenesis vary widely in peat soils, yet the reasons are poorly known. We examined rates of methanogenesis and methanogen diversity in relation to soil chemical and biological characteristics in 2 peatlands in New York State. One was an acidic (pH < 4.5) bog dominated by Sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs, although deeper peat was derived from sedges. The other was a fen dominated by Carex lacustris sedges with near-neutral pH soil. At both sites, the most active rates of methanogenesis occurred in the top 20 cm of the peat profile, even when using a substrate-induced methanogenesis technique with added glucose that stimulated rates up to 2 μmol g-1 day-1 in the bog and 6 μmol g-1 day-1 in the fen. Rates of anaerobic CO2 production were greater in the bog (0-36 μmol g-1 day-1) than in the fen (0-5 μmol g-1 day-1), and added glucose induced greater rates in the sedge-derived peat from the bog than the fen. The peat soil was much more decomposed throughout the profile in the fen. Analysis of chemical elements in the peat profile revealed a striking anomaly: a very high concentration of Pb in surface peat of the bog, which might have constrained methanogenesis. Application of T-RFLP analysis to methanogens revealed dominance by a Methanomicrobiales E2 clade of H2/CO2 users in the acidic peat soil of the bog, whereas deeper peat had a different Methanomicrobiales E1 clade, uncultured euryarchaeal rice cluster (RC)-I and RC-II groups, marine benthic group D (MBD) and a new cluster called subaqueous cluster (SC). In contrast, T-RFLP analysis of peat from the fen revealed co-dominance by Methanosaetaceae and Methanomicrobiales E1. The results showed complex relationships between rates of methanogenesis, methanogen populations and metabolic substrate availability with idiosyncratic interactions of trace chemical elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-259
Number of pages13
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Bogs
  • Chemical elements
  • Degree of decomposition
  • Fens
  • Methanogen populations
  • Methanogenesis
  • Peat soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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