What is it about?

Anaerobic oxidation of methane by consortium of methanotrophic archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria plays the crucial role in carbon and sulfur cycling in marine ecosystems. Because there was no satisfying explanation for the variation of the stable isotope fractionation factors between the enrichment cultures of different origin, we proposed the model that explains the lower sulfur isotope fractionation factors at a higher rate of anaerobic oxidation of methane due to the shorter average distance between microbial consortia and the respective sulfur substrates.

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Why is it important?

We described the dynamics of anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled with sulfate reduction showing that formation of consortia of anaerobic archaea and Desulfosarcina-like bacteria may have a significant effect on sulfur isotope fractionation. A good fit of the dynamic model to experimental data was obtained only when assuming active biomass accumulation. It was shown that during anaerobic oxidation the fractionation of sulfur isotopes is universally proportional to the rate of formation of microbial consortia which coincides with an increase of the total reaction rate.


I hope this article will help to understand the processes of anaerobic methane oxidation coupled with sulfate reduction in marine sediments more deeply.

Vasily Vavilin
Water Problems Institute, Rus.Acad.Sci.

This article shows the power of modeling in trying to understand incomprehensible processes.

Lyudmila Lokshina
Water Problems Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Using kinetic isotope effect to evaluate the significance of the sequential and parallel steps: formation of microbial consortium during reversible anaerobic methane oxidation coupled with sulfate reduction, Water Science & Technology, June 2019, IWA Publishing, DOI: 10.2166/wst.2019.201.
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