Effects of low oxygen concentrations on aerobic methane oxidation in seasonally hypoxic coastal waters.

Steinle, Lea, Maltby, Johanna, Treude, Tina , Kock, Annette , Bange, Hermann W. , Engbersen, Nadine, Zopfi, Jakob, Lehmann, Moritz F. and Niemann, Helge (2017) Effects of low oxygen concentrations on aerobic methane oxidation in seasonally hypoxic coastal waters. Open Access Biogeosciences (BG), 14 (6). pp. 1631-1645. DOI 10.5194/bg-14-1631-2017.

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Abstract

Coastal seas may account for more than 75 % of global oceanic methane emissions. There, methane is mainly produced microbially in anoxic sediments from where it can escape to the overlying water column. Aerobic methane oxidation (MOx) in the water column acts as a biological filter reducing the amount of methane that eventually evades to the atmosphere. The efficiency of the MOx filter is potentially controlled by the availability of dissolved methane and oxygen, as well as temperature, salinity, and hydrographic dynamics, and all of these factors undergo strong temporal fluctuations in coastal ecosystems. In order to elucidate the key environmental controls, specifically the effect of oxygen availability, on MOx in a seasonally stratified and hypoxic coastal marine setting, we conducted a 2-year time-series study with measurements of MOx and physico-chemical water column parameters in a coastal inlet in the southwestern Baltic Sea (Eckernförde Bay). We found that MOx rates always increased toward the seafloor, but were not directly linked to methane concentrations. MOx exhibited a strong seasonal variability, with maximum rates (up to 11.6 nmol l−1 d−1) during summer stratification when oxygen concentrations were lowest and bottom-water temperatures were highest. Under these conditions, 70–95 % of the sediment-released methane was oxidized, whereas only 40–60 % were consumed during the mixed and oxygenated periods. Laboratory experiments with manipulated oxygen concentrations in the range of 0.2–220 µmol l−1 revealed a sub-micromolar oxygen-optimum for MOx at the study site. In contrast, the fraction of methane-carbon incorporation into the bacterial biomass (compared to the total amount of oxidised methane) was up to 38-fold higher at saturated oxygen concentrations, suggesting a different partitioning of catabolic and anabolic processes under oxygen-replete and oxygen-starved conditions, respectively. Our results underscore the importance of MOx in mitigating methane emission from coastal waters and indicate an organism-level adaptation of the water column methanotrophs to hypoxic conditions.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R07
Kiel University
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.5194/bg-14-1631-2017
ISSN: 1726-4170
Related URLs:
Projects: Future Ocean, COST, PERGAMON, Boknis Eck
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 12:28
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 23:58
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/34369

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