Resilience of aerobic methanotrophs in soils; spotlight on the methane sink under agriculture

authored by
Jiyeon Lim, Helena Wehmeyer, Tanja Heffner, Meret Aeppli, Wenyu Gu, Pil Joo Kim, Marcus Horn, Adrian Ho

Aerobic methanotrophs are a specialized microbial group, catalyzing the oxidation of methane. Disturbance-induced loss of methanotroph diversity/abundance, thus results in the loss of this biological methane sink. Here, we synthesized and conceptualized the resilience of the methanotrophs to sporadic, recurring, and compounded disturbances in soils. The methanotrophs showed remarkable resilience to sporadic disturbances, recovering in activity and population size. However, activity was severely compromised when disturbance persisted or reoccurred at increasing frequency, and was significantly impaired following change in land use. Next, we consolidated the impact of agricultural practices after land conversion on the soil methane sink. The effects of key interventions (tillage, organic matter input, and cover cropping) where much knowledge has been gathered were considered. Pairwise comparisons of these interventions to nontreated agricultural soils indicate that the agriculture-induced impact on the methane sink depends on the cropping system, which can be associated to the physiology of the methanotrophs. The impact of agriculture is more evident in upland soils, where the methanotrophs play a more prominent role than the methanogens in modulating overall methane flux. Although resilient to sporadic disturbances, the methanotrophs are vulnerable to compounded disturbances induced by anthropogenic activities, significantly affecting the methane sink function.

Institute of Microbiology
External Organisation(s)
Nestlé SA
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Gyeongsang National University
FEMS microbiology ecology
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Microbiology, Ecology
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 2 - Zero Hunger, SDG 15 - Life on Land
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)