Archaea mediating anaerobic methane oxidation in deep-sea sediments at cold seeps of the eastern Aleutian subduction zone.

Elvert, Marcus, Suess, Erwin, Greinert, Jens and Whiticar, M. (2000) Archaea mediating anaerobic methane oxidation in deep-sea sediments at cold seeps of the eastern Aleutian subduction zone. Organic Geochemistry, 31 . pp. 1175-1187. DOI 10.1016/S0146-6380(00)00111-X.

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Cold seeps in the Aleutian deep-sea trench support prolific benthic communities and generate carbonate precipitates which are dependent on carbon dioxide delivered from anaerobic methane oxidation. This process is active in the anaerobic sediments at the sulfate reduction-methane production boundary and is probably performed by archaea working in syntrophic co-operation with sulfate-reducing bacteria. Diagnostic lipid biomarkers of archaeal origin include irregular isoprenoids such as 2,6,11,15-tetramethylhexadecane (crocetane) and 2,6,10,15,19-pentamethylicosane (PMI) as well as the glycerol ether lipid archaeol (2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycerol). These biomarkers are prominent lipid constituents in the anaerobic sediments as well as in the carbonate precipitates. Carbon isotopic compositions of the biomarkers are strongly depleted in 13C with values of δ13C as low as −130.3‰ PDB. The process of anaerobic methane oxidation is also reflected in the carbon isotope composition of organic matter with δ13C-values of −39.2 and −41.8‰ and of the carbonate precipitates with values of −45.4 and −48.7‰. This suggests that methane-oxidizing archaea have accumulated within the microbial community, which is active at the cold seep sites. The dominance of crocetane in sediments at one station indicates that, probably due to decreased methane venting, archaea might no longer be growing, whereas high amounts of crocetenes found at other more active stations may indicate recent fluid venting and active archaea. Comparison with other biomarker studies suggests that various archaeal assemblages might be involved in the anaerobic consumption of methane. The assemblages are apparently dependent on specific conditions found at each cold seep environment. Selective conditions probably include water depth, temperature, degree of anoxia, and supply of free methane.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Aleutian subduction zone; Cold seeps; Authigenic carbonates; Biomarkers; Irregular isoprenoids; Carbon isotopic composition; Crocetane; Crocetenes; PMI; Archaeol
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: SFB313
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 09:39

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