Diurnal freeze-thaw cycles (FTCs) occur in the spring and autumn in boreal wetlands as soil temperatures rise above freezing during the day and fall below freezing at night. A surge in methane emissions from these systems is frequently documented during spring FTCs, accounting for a large portion of annual emissions. In boreal wetlands, methane is produced as a result of syntrophic microbial processes, mediated by a consortium of fermenting bacteria and methanogenic archaea. Further research is needed to determine whether FTCs enhance microbial metabolism related to methane production through the cryogenic decomposition of soil organic matter. Previous studies observed large methane emissions during the spring thawed period in the Sanjiang seasonal frozen marsh of Northeast China. To investigate how FTCs impact the soil microbial community and methanogen abundance and activity, we collected soil cores from the Sanjiang marsh during the FTCs of autumn 2014 and spring 2015. Methanogens were investigated based on expression level of the methyl coenzyme reductase (mcrA) gene, and soil bacterial and archaeal community structures were assessed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The results show that a decrease in bacteria and methanogens followed autumns FTCs, whereas an increase in bacteria and methanogens was observed following spring FTCs. The bacterial community structure, including Firmicutes and certain Deltaproteobacteria, was changed following autumn FTCs. Temperature and substrate were the primary factors regulating the abundance and composition of the microbial communities during autumn FTCs, whereas no factors significantly contributing to spring FTCs were identified. Acetoclastic methanogens from order Methanosarcinales were the dominant group at the beginning and end of both the autumn and spring FTCs. Active methanogens were significantly more abundant during the diurnal thawed period, indicating that the increasing number of FTCs predicted to occur with global climate change could potentially promote CH4 emissions in seasonal frozen marshes.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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