The composition, localization and function of low-temperature-adapted microbial communities involved in methanogenic degradations of cellulose and chitin from Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau wetland soils

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Abstract

Aims

To reveal the microbial communities from Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau wetland soils that have the potential to be used in the utilization of cellulosic and chitinous biomass at low temperatures (≤25°C).

Methods and Results

Soil samples collected from six wetlands on Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau were supplemented with or without cellulose and chitin flakes, and anaerobically incubated at 25 and 15°C; high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to access the composition and localization (in the slurry and on the surface) of enriched microbial communities; a hypothetical model was constructed to demonstrate the functional roles of involved microbes mainly at genus level. Overall, microbial communities from Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau wetlands showed significant potential to convert both cellulose and chitin to methane at low temperatures; Clostridium III, Clostridium XIVa, Paludibacter, Parcubacteria, Saccharofermentans, Pelotomaculum, Methanosaeta, Methanobrevibacter, Methanoregula, Methanospirillum and Methanosarcina participated in methanogenic degradation of both cellulose and chitin through the roles of hydrolytic, saccharolytic and secondary fermenters and methanogens respectively. Acetotrophic methanogens were mainly enriched in the slurries, while hydrogenotrophic methanogens could be both in the slurries and on the surface.

Conclusions

The composition and localization of microbial communities that could effectively convert cellulose and chitin to methane at low temperatures have been revealed by high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing methods, and reviewing the literatures on the microbial pure culture helped to elucidate functional roles of significantly enriched microbes.

Significance and Impact of the Study

This study will contribute to the understanding of carbon and nitrogen cycling of cellulose and chitin in cold-area wetlands and provide fundamental information to obtain microbial resources for the utilization of biomass wastes at low temperatures.

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