Anaerobic oxidation of methane by sulfate in hypersaline groundwater of the Dead Sea aquifer

Avrahamov, N. and Antler, Gilad and Yechieli, Y. and Gavrieli, I. and Joye, S. B. and Saxton, M. and Turchyn, A. V. and Sivan, O. (2014) Anaerobic oxidation of methane by sulfate in hypersaline groundwater of the Dead Sea aquifer. Geobiology. n/a-n/a. ISSN 14724677 DOI 10.1111/gbi.12095

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gbi.12095

Abstract

Geochemical and microbial evidence points to anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) likely coupled with bacterial sulfate reduction in the hypersaline groundwater of the Dead Sea (DS) alluvial aquifer. Groundwater was sampled from nine boreholes drilled along the Arugot alluvial fan next to the DS. The groundwater samples were highly saline (up to 6300 mm chlorine), anoxic, and contained methane. A mass balance calculation demonstrates that the very low δ13CDIC in this groundwater is due to anaerobic methane oxidation. Sulfate depletion coincident with isotope enrichment of sulfur and oxygen isotopes in the sulfate suggests that sulfate reduction is associated with this AOM. DNA extraction and 16S amplicon sequencing were used to explore the microbial community present and were found to be microbial composition indicative of bacterial sulfate reducers associated with anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) driving AOM. The net sulfate reduction seems to be primarily controlled by the salinity and the available methane and is substantially lower as salinity increases (2.5 mm sulfate removal at 3000 mm chlorine but only 0.5 mm sulfate removal at 6300 mm chlorine). Low overall sulfur isotope fractionation observed (34ε = 17 ± 3.5‰) hints at high rates of sulfate reduction, as has been previously suggested for sulfate reduction coupled with methane oxidation. The new results demonstrate the presence of sulfate-driven AOM in terrestrial hypersaline systems and expand our understanding of how microbial life is sustained under the challenging conditions of an extremely hypersaline environment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2014AREP; IA68;
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
07 - Gold Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Geobiology
Page Range: n/a-n/a
Identification Number: 10.1111/gbi.12095
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2014 18:05
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2014 00:19
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/3131

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