Expanding the repertoire of electron acceptors for the anaerobic oxidation of methane in carbonates in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean

ISME J. 2021 Sep;15(9):2523-2536. doi: 10.1038/s41396-021-00918-w. Epub 2021 Mar 12.


Authigenic carbonates represent a significant microbial sink for methane, yet little is known about the microbiome responsible for the methane removal. We identify carbonate microbiomes distributed over 21 locations hosted by seven different cold seeps in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by carrying out a gene-based survey using 16S rRNA- and mcrA gene sequencing coupled with metagenomic analyses. Based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon analyses, these sites were dominated by bacteria affiliated to the Firmicutes, Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria. ANME-1 and -2 archaeal clades were abundant in the carbonates yet their typical syntrophic partners, sulfate-reducing bacteria, were not significantly present. Based on mcrA amplicon analyses, the Candidatus Methanoperedens clades were also highly abundant. Our metagenome analysis indicated that methane oxidizers affiliated to the ANME-1 and -2, may be capable of performing complete methane- and potentially short-chain alkane oxidation independently using oxidized sulfur and nitrogen compounds as terminal electron acceptors. Gammaproteobacteria are hypothetically capable of utilizing oxidized nitrogen compounds and may be involved in syntrophy with methane-oxidizing archaea. Carbonate structures represent a window for a more diverse utilization of electron acceptors for anaerobic methane oxidation along the Atlantic and Pacific Margin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Carbonates
  • Electrons*
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Methane*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Carbonates
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Methane