Anaerobic Metabolism In Tidal Freshwater Wetlands: I. Plant Removal Effects on Iron Reduction and Methanogenesis

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For energetic reasons, iron reduction suppresses methanogenesis in tidal freshwater wetlands; however, when iron reduction is limited by iron oxide availability, methanogenesis dominates anaerobic carbon mineralization. Plants can mediate this microbial competition by releasing oxygen into the rhizosphere and supplying oxidized iron for iron reducers. We utilized a plant removal experiment in two wetland sites to test the hypothesis that, in the absence of plants, rates of iron reduction would be diminished, allowing methanogenesis to dominate anaerobic metabolism. In both sites, methanogenesis was the primary anaerobic mineralization pathway, with iron reduction dominating only early and late in the growing season in the site with a less organic soil. These patterns were not influenced by the presence of plants, demonstrating that plants were not a key control of microbial metabolism. Instead, we suggest that site conditions, including soil chemistry, and temperature are important controls of the pathways of anaerobic metabolism.


This article was originally published in Estuaries and Coasts, volume 36, issue 3, in 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s12237-012-9527-6


Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation