Ecological and genomic profiling of anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea in a deep granitic environment

ISME J. 2018 Jan;12(1):31-47. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2017.140. Epub 2017 Sep 8.


Recent single-gene-based surveys of deep continental aquifers demonstrated the widespread occurrence of archaea related to Candidatus Methanoperedens nitroreducens (ANME-2d) known to mediate anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). However, it is unclear whether ANME-2d mediates AOM in the deep continental biosphere. In this study, we found the dominance of ANME-2d in groundwater enriched in sulfate and methane from a 300-m deep underground borehole in granitic rock. A near-complete genome of one representative species of the ANME-2d obtained from the underground borehole has most of functional genes required for AOM and assimilatory sulfate reduction. The genome of the subsurface ANME-2d is different from those of other members of ANME-2d by lacking functional genes encoding nitrate and nitrite reductases and multiheme cytochromes. In addition, the subsurface ANME-2d genome contains a membrane-bound NiFe hydrogenase gene putatively involved in respiratory H2 oxidation, which is different from those of other methanotrophic archaea. Short-term incubation of microbial cells collected from the granitic groundwater with 13C-labeled methane also demonstrates that AOM is linked to microbial sulfate reduction. Given the prominence of granitic continental crust and sulfate and methane in terrestrial subsurface fluids, we conclude that AOM may be widespread in the deep continental biosphere.

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Environment
  • Genomics
  • Groundwater / chemistry
  • Groundwater / microbiology*
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Methanosarcinales / classification
  • Methanosarcinales / genetics*
  • Methanosarcinales / isolation & purification
  • Methanosarcinales / metabolism*
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phylogeny
  • Silicon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Silicon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Sulfates / metabolism


  • Nitrates
  • Sulfates
  • granite
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Methane