Methane release from the oceans is controlled in large part by syntrophic interactions between anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) and sulfate-reducing bacteria (DSS), frequently found as organized consortia. An understanding of the specifics of this symbiotic relationship and the metabolic heterogeneity existing between and within individual methane-oxidizing aggregates is currently lacking. Here, we use the microanalytical method FISH-SIMS (fluorescence in situ hybridization-secondary ion mass spectrometry) to describe the physiological traits and anabolic activity of individual methanotrophic consortia, specifically tracking 15N-labelled protein synthesis to examine the effects of organization and size on the metabolic activity of the syntrophic partners. Patterns of 15N distribution within individual aggregates showed enhanced 15N assimilation in ANME-2 cells relative to the co-associated DSS revealing a decoupling in anabolic activity between the partners. Protein synthesis in ANME-2 cells was sustained throughout the core of individual ANME-2/DSS consortia ranging in size range from 4 to 20 μm. This indicates that metabolic activity of the methane-oxidizing archaea is not limited to, or noticeably enhanced at the ANME-2/DSS boundary. Overall, the metabolic activity of both syntrophic partners within consortia was greater than activity measured in representatives of the ANME-2 and DSS observed alone, with smaller ANME-2/DSS aggregates displaying a tendency for greater 15N uptake and doubling times ranging from 3 to 5 months. The combination of 15N-labelling and FISH-SIMS provides an important perspective on the extent of heterogeneity within methanotrophic aggregates and may aid in constraining predictive models of activity and growth by these syntrophic consortia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics