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Title: Syntrophic interactions and mechanisms underpinning anaerobic methane oxidation: targeted metaproteogenomics, single-cell protein detection and quantitative isotope imaging of microbial consortia

Syntrophy and mutualism play a central role in carbon and nutrient cycling by microorganisms. Yet, our ability to effectively study symbionts in culture has been hindered by the inherent interdependence of syntrophic associations, their dynamic behavior, and their frequent existence at thermodynamic limits. Now solutions to these challenges are emerging in the form of new methodologies. Developing strategies that establish links between the identity of microorganisms and their metabolic potential, as well as techniques that can probe metabolic networks on a scale that captures individual molecule exchange and processing, is at the forefront of microbial ecology. Understanding the interactions between microorganisms on this level, at a resolution previously intractable, will lead to our greater understanding of carbon turnover and microbial community resilience to environmental perturbations. In this project, we studied an enigmatic syntrophic association between uncultured methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria. This environmental archaeal-bacterial partnership represents a globally important sink for methane in anoxic environments. The specific goals of this project were organized into 3 major tasks designed to address questions relating to the ecophysiology of these syntrophic organisms under changing environmental conditions (e.g. different electron acceptors and nutrients), primarily through the development of microanalytical imaging methods which enable themore » visualization of the spatial distribution of the partners within aggregates, consumption and exchange of isotopically labeled substrates, and expression of targeted proteins identified via metaproteomics. The advanced tool set developed here to collect, correlate, and analyze these high resolution image and isotope-based datasets from methane-oxidizing consortia has the potential to be widely applicable for studying and modeling patterns of activity and interactions across a broad range of spatially structured microbial partnerships, including other syntrophic associations, microbial mats, biofilms, and plant-microbe or animal-microbe symbioses in nature.« less
  1. California Institute of Technology
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
California Institute of Technology
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
03 NATURAL GAS; 59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES methane, syntrophy, stable isotope probing, nanoSIMS, proteomics