Degelmann, DM; Borken, W; Drake, HL; Kolb, S: Different atmospheric methane-oxidizing communities in European beech and Norway spruce soils, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76(10), 3228-3235 (2010), doi:10.1128/AEM.02730-09
Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests exhibit lower annual atmospheric methane consumption rates than do European beech (Fagus sylvatica) forests. In the current study, pmoA (encodes a subunit of membrane-bound CH4 monooxygenase) genes from three temperate forest ecosystems with both beech and spruce stands were analyzed to assess the potential effect of tree species on methanotrophic communities. A pmoA sequence difference of 7% at the derived protein level correlated with the species-level distance cut-off value of 3% based on the 16S rRNA gene. Applying this distance cut-off, higher numbers of species-level pmoA genotypes were detected in beech than in spruce soil samples, all affiliating with upland soil cluster  (USC). Additionally, two deep branching genotypes (named 6 and 7) were present in various soil samples not affiliating with both pmoA or amoA. Abundance of USCα pmoA genes was higher in beech soils and reached up to (1.2 ± 0.2) ×108 pmoA genes gDW-1. Calculated atmospheric methane oxidation rates per cell yielded the same trend. However, these values were below the theoretical threshold necessary for facilitating cell maintenance, suggesting that USCα species might require alternative carbon or energy sources to thrive in forest soils. These collective results indicate that the methanotrophic diversity and abundance in spruce soils are lower than those of beech soils, suggesting that tree species-related factors might influence the in situ activity of methanotrophs.
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