Metabolic dependencies govern microbial syntrophies during methanogenesis in an anaerobic digestion ecosystem

Xinyu Zhu, Stefano Campanaro, Laura Treu, Rekha Seshadri, Natalia Ivanova, Panagiotis Kougias*, Nikos Kyrpides, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Methanogenesis, a biological process mediated by complex microbial communities, has attracted great attention due to its contribution to global warming and potential in biotechnological applications. The current study unveiled the core microbial methanogenic metabolisms in anaerobic vessel ecosystems by applying combined genome-centric metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. Here, we demonstrate that an enriched natural system, fueled only with acetate, could support a bacteria-dominated microbiota employing a multi-trophic methanogenic process. Moreover, significant changes, in terms of microbial structure and function, were recorded after the system was supplemented with additional H2. Methanosarcina thermophila, the predominant methanogen prior to H2 addition, simultaneously performed acetoclastic, hydrogenotrophic, and methylotrophic methanogenesis. The methanogenic pattern changed after the addition of H2, which immediately stimulated Methanomicrobia-activity and was followed by a slow enrichment of Methanobacteria members. Interestingly, the essential genes involved in the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway were not expressed in bacterial members. The high expression of a glycine cleavage system indicated the activation of alternative metabolic pathways for acetate metabolism, which were reconstructed in the most abundant bacterial genomes. Moreover, as evidenced by predicted auxotrophies, we propose that specific microbes of the community were forming symbiotic relationships, thus reducing the biosynthetic burden of individual members. These results provide new information that will facilitate future microbial ecology studies of interspecies competition and symbiosis in methanogenic niches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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