Trace methane oxidation and the methane dependency of sulfate reduction in anaerobic granular sludge

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2010 May;72(2):261-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2010.00849.x. Epub 2010 Feb 15.


This study investigates the oxidation of labeled methane (CH(4)) and the CH(4) dependence of sulfate reduction in three types of anaerobic granular sludge. In all samples, (13)C-labeled CH(4) was anaerobically oxidized to (13)C-labeled CO(2), while net endogenous CH(4) production was observed. Labeled-CH(4) oxidation rates followed CH(4) production rates, and the presence of sulfate hampered both labeled-CH(4) oxidation and methanogenesis. Labeled-CH(4) oxidation was therefore linked to methanogenesis. This process is referred to as trace CH(4) oxidation and has been demonstrated in methanogenic pure cultures. This study shows that the ratio between labeled-CH(4) oxidation and methanogenesis is positively affected by the CH(4) partial pressure and that this ratio is in methanogenic granular sludge more than 40 times higher than that in pure cultures of methanogens. The CH(4) partial pressure also positively affected sulfate reduction and negatively affected methanogenesis: a repression of methanogenesis at elevated CH(4) partial pressures confers an advantage to sulfate reducers that compete with methanogens for common substrates, formed from endogenous material. The oxidation of labeled CH(4) and the CH(4) dependence of sulfate reduction are thus not necessarily evidence of anaerobic oxidation of CH(4) coupled to sulfate reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Archaea / metabolism
  • Bioreactors
  • Methane / biosynthesis
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pressure
  • Sewage / microbiology*
  • Sulfates / metabolism


  • Sewage
  • Sulfates
  • Methane