Novel microbial communities of the Haakon Mosby mud volcano and their role as a methane sink

Nature. 2006 Oct 19;443(7113):854-8. doi: 10.1038/nature05227.


Mud volcanism is an important natural source of the greenhouse gas methane to the hydrosphere and atmosphere. Recent investigations show that the number of active submarine mud volcanoes might be much higher than anticipated (for example, see refs 3-5), and that gas emitted from deep-sea seeps might reach the upper mixed ocean. Unfortunately, global methane emission from active submarine mud volcanoes cannot be quantified because their number and gas release are unknown. It is also unclear how efficiently methane-oxidizing microorganisms remove methane. Here we investigate the methane-emitting Haakon Mosby Mud Volcano (HMMV, Barents Sea, 72 degrees N, 14 degrees 44' E; 1,250 m water depth) to provide quantitative estimates of the in situ composition, distribution and activity of methanotrophs in relation to gas emission. The HMMV hosts three key communities: aerobic methanotrophic bacteria (Methylococcales), anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME-2) thriving below siboglinid tubeworms, and a previously undescribed clade of archaea (ANME-3) associated with bacterial mats. We found that the upward flow of sulphate- and oxygen-free mud volcano fluids restricts the availability of these electron acceptors for methane oxidation, and hence the habitat range of methanotrophs. This mechanism limits the capacity of the microbial methane filter at active marine mud volcanoes to <40% of the total flux.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / metabolism
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Sulfates / metabolism
  • Volcanic Eruptions / analysis*


  • Sulfates
  • Methane

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ704631
  • GENBANK/AJ704650
  • GENBANK/AJ704651
  • GENBANK/AJ704652
  • GENBANK/AJ704653
  • GENBANK/AM287206
  • GENBANK/AM287207