JOURNAL ARTICLE

Local conditions structure unique archaeal communities in the anoxic sediments of meromictic Lake Kivu

Susma Bhattarai, Kelly Ann Ross, Martin Schmid, Flavio S Anselmetti, Helmut Bürgmann
Microbial Ecology 2012, 64 (2): 291-310
22430505
Meromictic Lake Kivu is renowned for its enormous quantity of methane dissolved in the hypolimnion. The methane is primarily of biological origin, and its concentration has been increasing in the past half-century. Insight into the origin of methane production in Lake Kivu has become relevant with the recent commercial extraction of methane from the hypolimnion. This study provides the first culture-independent approach to identifying the archaeal communities present in Lake Kivu sediments at the sediment-water interface. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis suggests considerable heterogeneity in the archaeal community composition at varying sample locations. This diversity reflects changes in the geochemical conditions in the sediment and the overlying water, which are an effect of local groundwater inflows. A more in-depth look at the archaeal community composition by clone library analysis revealed diverse phylogenies of Euryarchaeota and Crenarachaeota. Many of the sequences in the clone libraries belonged to globally distributed archaeal clades such as the rice cluster V and Lake Dagow sediment environmental clusters. Several of the determined clades were previously thought to be rare among freshwater sediment Archaea (e.g., sequences related to the SAGMEG-1 clade). Surprisingly, there was no observed relation of clones to known hydrogentrophic methanogens and less than 2 % of clones were related to acetoclastic methanogens. The local variability, diversity, and novelty of the archaeal community structure in Lake Kivu should be considered when making assumptions on the biogeochemical functioning of its sediments.

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