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Upland Soil Cluster Gamma dominates methanotrophic communities in upland grassland soils

Deng, Yongcui, Che, Rongxiao, Wang, Fang, Conrad, Ralf, Dumont, Marc, Yun, Juanli, Wu, Yibo, Hu, Ang, Fang, Jie, Xu, Zhihong, Cui, Xiaoyong, Wang, Yanfen
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.670 pp. 826-836
Methylobacter, Methylocystis, atmospheric precipitation, community structure, environmental factors, genes, geographical distribution, global warming, grassland soils, grasslands, highlands, methane, methanotrophs, multivariate analysis, pH, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, soil sampling, upland soils, variance, China
Aerobic methanotrophs in upland soils consume atmospheric methane, serving as a critical counterbalance to global warming; however, the biogeographic distribution patterns of their abundance and community composition are poorly understood, especial at a large scale. In this study, soils were sampled from 30 grasslands across >2000 km on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to determine the distribution patterns of methanotrophs and their driving factors at a regional scale. Methanotroph abundance and community composition were analyzed using quantitative PCR and Illumina Miseq sequencing of pmoA genes, respectively. The pmoA gene copies ranged from 8.2 × 105 to 1.1 × 108 per gram dry soil. Among the 30 grassland soil samples, Upland Soil Cluster Gamma (USCγ) dominated the methanotroph communities in 26 samples. Jasper Ridge Cluster (JR3) was the most dominant methanotrophic cluster in two samples; while Methylocystis, cluster FWs, and Methylobacter were abundant in other two wet soil samples. Interestingly, reanalyzing the pmoA genes sequencing data from existing publications suggested that USCγ was also the main methanotrophic cluster in grassland soils in other regions, especially when their mean annual precipitation was <500 mm. Canonical Analysis of Principal Coordinates including all soil samples indicated that the methanotrophic community composition was significantly correlated with local environmental factors, among which mean annual precipitation and pH showed the strongest correlations. Variance partitioning analysis showed that environmental factors and spatial distance were significant factors affecting the community structure of methanotrophs, and environmental properties were more important factors. Collectively, these findings indicate that atmospheric methane may be mainly oxidized by USCγ in upland soils. They also highlight the key role of water availability and pH in determining the abundance and community profiles of grassland soil methanotrophs.