Suppression of methanogenesis by dissimilatory Fe(III)- reducing bacteria in tropical rain forest soils: implications for ecosystem methane flux

Teh, Y.A., Dubinsky, E.A., Silver, W.L., and Carlson, C.M.
(2008) Suppression of methanogenesis by dissimilatory Fe
(III)-reducing bacteria in tropical rain forest soils: implications
for ecosystem methane flux. Glob Change Biol 14:

Tropical forests are an important source of atmospheric methane (CH4), and recent work suggests that CH4 fluxes from humid tropical environments are driven by variations in CH4 production, rather than by bacterial CH4 oxidation. Competition for acetate between methanogenic archaea and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria is one of the principal controls on CH4 flux in many Fe-rich anoxic environments. Upland humid tropical forests are also abundant in Fe and are characterized by high organic matter inputs, steep soil oxygen (02) gradients, and fluctuating redox conditions, yielding concomitant methanogenesis and bacterial Fe(III) reduction. However, whether Fe(III)-reducing bacteria coexist with methanogens or competitively suppress methanogenic acetate use in wet tropical soils is uncertain. To address this question, we conducted a process-based laboratory experiment to determine if competition for acetate between methanogens and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria influenced CH4 production and C isotope composition in humid tropical forest soils. We collected soils from a poor to moderately drained upland rain forest and incubated them with combinations of C-13-bicarbonate, C-13-methyl labeled acetate ((CH3COO-)-C-13), poorly crystalline Fe(III), or fluoroacetate. CH4 production showed a greater proportional increase than Fe2+ production after competition for acetate was alleviated, suggesting that Fe(III)-reducing bacteria were suppressing methanogenesis. Methanogenesis increased by approximately 67 times while Fe2+ production only doubled after the addition of (CH3COO-)-C-13. Large increases in both CH4 and Fe2+ production also indicate that the two process were acetate limited, suggesting that acetate may be a key substrate for anoxic carbon (C) metabolism in humid tropical forest soils. C isotope analysis suggests that competition for acetate was not the only factor driving CH4 production, as C-13 partitioning did not vary significantly between (CH3COO-)-C-13 and (CH3COO-)-C-13 + Fe(III) treatments. This suggests that dissimilatory Fe(III)-reduction suppressed both hydrogenotrophic and aceticlastic methanogenesis. These findings have implications for understanding the CH4 biogeochemistry of highly weathered wet tropical soils, where CH4 efflux is driven largely by CH4 production.

Iron reduction and soil phosphorus solubilization in humid tropical forests soils: the roles of labile carbon pools and an electron shuttle compound

Chac´on, N., Silver, W.L., Dubinsky, E.A. & Cusack, D.F. 2006. Iron
reduction and soil phosphorus solubilization in humid tropical forest
soils: the roles of labile carbon pools and an electron shuttle compound.
Biogeochemistry, 78, 67–84.

The affinity of iron oxides and hydroxides for phosphorus is thought to contribute to phosphorus limitation to net primary productivity in humid tropical forests on acidic, highly weathered soils. Perennially warm, humid conditions and high biological activity in these soils can result in fluctuating redox potential that in turn leads to considerable iron reduction in the presence of labile carbon and humic substances. We investigated the effects of reducing conditions in combination with the addition of labile carbon substrates (glucose and acetate) and an electron shuttle compound on iron reduction and phosphorus release in a humid tropical forest soil. Glucose or acetate was added to soils as a single dose at the beginning of the experiment, and as pulsed inputs over time, which more closely mimics patterns in labile carbon availability. Iron reduction and phosphorus mobilization were weakly stimulated by a single low level addition of carbon, and the addition of the electron shuttle compound with or without added carbon. Pulsed labile carbon additions produced a significant increase in soil pH, soluble iron, and phosphorus concentrations. Pulsed labile carbon inputs also promoted the precipitation of ferrous hydroxide complexes which could increase the capacity for P sorption, although our results suggest that rates of P solubilization exceeded re-adsorption. Plant and microbial P demand are also likely to serve as an important sinks for released P, limiting the role of P re-adsorption. Our results suggest that reducing conditions coupled with periodic carbon inputs can stimulate iron reduction and a corresponding increase in soil phosphorus mobilization, which may provide a source of phosphorus to plants and microorganisms previously undocumented in these ecosystems.
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