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Title: Temperature and salinity controls on methanogenesis in an artificial freshwater lake (Cardiff Bay, Wales)
Author: Olivier, Miriam Frances
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 7994
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2016
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Cardiff Bay is an artificial freshwater lake created by the impoundment of 100 ha of estuarine intertidal mudflats in the early 2000s. This dramatic environmental change is reflected in the sedimentary record as a sharp transition between lacustrine gyttja and estuarine clay sediments. This study utilises a combination of geochemical, molecular genetic and novel cultivation based approaches to explore how the methanogen community of Cardiff Bay sediments has responded to the transition from brackish to freshwater conditions caused by impoundment, and how they might respond to future climate change. Microbial methanogenesis is active in newly deposited Cardiff Bay lacustrine gyttja sediments. Porewater methane concentrations regularly exceed saturation limits, suggesting that ebullition may be a direct pathway for atmospheric methane emissions. Sediment slurry incubations suggest that methane production in Cardiff Bay sediments would be further enhanced by both increased substrate availability and climate relevant temperature increases. Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis mediated by the genus Methanobacterium is the major pathway for methane production in Cardiff Bay, which is atypical for either estuarine or freshwater environments, and reflects the importance of recalcitrant terrestrial carbon inputs. In fact, cultivation based experiments provide tentative evidence that syntrophic acetate and methylamine utilizing consortia involving hydrogenotrophic methanogens were able to outcompete acetotrophic and methylotrophic methanogens under certain environmental conditions. The temperature and salinity ranges and characteristics, and substrate types, of Cardiff Bay methanogenic communities varied little between sediments deposited pre- and post-impoundment. Differences between the methanogen community composition of lacustrine gyttja and estuarine clay sediments were driven predominantly by a reduction in the quantity and availability of organic matter with increasing sediment depth. A phylogenetically and physiologically diverse range of methanogens were enriched from Cardiff Bay sediments, including thermophilic methanogens and selected marine methanogens. Methanogen strains isolated from Cardiff Bay were closely related to cultivated strains, yet displayed novel physiological characteristics. These included a strain of the thermophilic genus Methanothermobacter able to produce methane at 25 °C, and a strain of the marine genus Methanolobus which grew under freshwater conditions (0.01 M NaCl).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GC Oceanography