Dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria are widespread in terrestrial ecosystems, especially in anaerobic soils and sediments. Thermodynamically, dissimilatory metal reduction is more favorable than sulfate reduction and methanogenesis but less favorable than denitrification and aerobic respiration. It is critical to understand the complex relationships, including the absence or presence of terminal electron acceptors, that govern microbial competition and coexistence in anaerobic soils and sediments, because subsurface microbial processes can effect greenhouse gas emissions from soils, possibly resulting in impacts at the global scale. Here, we elucidated the effect of an inexhaustible, ferrous-iron and humic-substance mimicking terminal electron acceptor by deploying potentiostatically poised electrodes in the sediment of a very specific stream riparian zone in Upstate New York state. At two sites within the same stream riparian zone during the course of 6 weeks in the spring of 2013, we measured CH4 and N2/N2O emissions from soil chambers containing either poised or unpoised electrodes, and we harvested biofilms from the electrodes to quantify microbial community dynamics. At the upstream site, which had a lower vegetation cover and highest soil temperatures, the poised electrodes inhibited CH4 emissions by ~45% (when normalized to remove temporal effects). CH4 emissions were not significantly impacted at the downstream site. N2/N2O emissions were generally low at both sites and were not impacted by poised electrodes. We did not find a direct link between bioelectrochemical treatment and microbial community membership; however, we did find a correspondence between environment/function and microbial community dynamics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)