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      Single cell activity reveals direct electron transfer in methanotrophic consortia.

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          Abstract

          Multicellular assemblages of microorganisms are ubiquitous in nature, and the proximity afforded by aggregation is thought to permit intercellular metabolic coupling that can accommodate otherwise unfavourable reactions. Consortia of methane-oxidizing archaea and sulphate-reducing bacteria are a well-known environmental example of microbial co-aggregation; however, the coupling mechanisms between these paired organisms is not well understood, despite the attention given them because of the global significance of anaerobic methane oxidation. Here we examined the influence of interspecies spatial positioning as it relates to biosynthetic activity within structurally diverse uncultured methane-oxidizing consortia by measuring stable isotope incorporation for individual archaeal and bacterial cells to constrain their potential metabolic interactions. In contrast to conventional models of syntrophy based on the passage of molecular intermediates, cellular activities were found to be independent of both species intermixing and distance between syntrophic partners within consortia. A generalized model of electric conductivity between co-associated archaea and bacteria best fit the empirical data. Combined with the detection of large multi-haem cytochromes in the genomes of methanotrophic archaea and the demonstration of redox-dependent staining of the matrix between cells in consortia, these results provide evidence for syntrophic coupling through direct electron transfer.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to nitrate reduction in a novel archaeal lineage.

          Anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) is critical for controlling the flux of methane from anoxic environments. AOM coupled to iron, manganese and sulphate reduction have been demonstrated in consortia containing anaerobic methanotrophic (ANME) archaea. More recently it has been shown that the bacterium Candidatus 'Methylomirabilis oxyfera' can couple AOM to nitrite reduction through an intra-aerobic methane oxidation pathway. Bioreactors capable of AOM coupled to denitrification have resulted in the enrichment of 'M. oxyfera' and a novel ANME lineage, ANME-2d. However, as 'M. oxyfera' can independently couple AOM to denitrification, the role of ANME-2d in the process is unresolved. Here, a bioreactor fed with nitrate, ammonium and methane was dominated by a single ANME-2d population performing nitrate-driven AOM. Metagenomic, single-cell genomic and metatranscriptomic analyses combined with bioreactor performance and (13)C- and (15)N-labelling experiments show that ANME-2d is capable of independent AOM through reverse methanogenesis using nitrate as the terminal electron acceptor. Comparative analyses reveal that the genes for nitrate reduction were transferred laterally from a bacterial donor, suggesting selection for this novel process within ANME-2d. Nitrite produced by ANME-2d is reduced to dinitrogen gas through a syntrophic relationship with an anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacterium, effectively outcompeting 'M. oxyfera' in the system. We propose the name Candidatus 'Methanoperedens nitroreducens' for the ANME-2d population and the family Candidatus 'Methanoperedenaceae' for the ANME-2d lineage. We predict that 'M. nitroreducens' and other members of the 'Methanoperedenaceae' have an important role in linking the global carbon and nitrogen cycles in anoxic environments.
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            Methane-consuming archaea revealed by directly coupled isotopic and phylogenetic analysis.

            Microorganisms living in anoxic marine sediments consume more than 80% of the methane produced in the world's oceans. In addition to single-species aggregates, consortia of metabolically interdependent bacteria and archaea are found in methane-rich sediments. A combination of fluorescence in situ hybridization and secondary ion mass spectrometry shows that cells belonging to one specific archaeal group associated with the Methanosarcinales were all highly depleted in 13C (to values of -96 per thousand). This depletion indicates assimilation of isotopically light methane into specific archaeal cells. Additional microbial species apparently use other carbon sources, as indicated by significantly higher 13C/12C ratios in their cell carbon. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of simultaneous determination of the identity and the metabolic activity of naturally occurring microorganisms.
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              Direct exchange of electrons within aggregates of an evolved syntrophic coculture of anaerobic bacteria.

              Microbial consortia that cooperatively exchange electrons play a key role in the anaerobic processing of organic matter. Interspecies hydrogen transfer is a well-documented strategy for electron exchange in dispersed laboratory cultures, but cooperative partners in natural environments often form multispecies aggregates. We found that laboratory evolution of a coculture of Geobacter metallireducens and Geobacter sulfurreducens metabolizing ethanol favored the formation of aggregates that were electrically conductive. Sequencing aggregate DNA revealed selection for a mutation that enhances the production of a c-type cytochrome involved in extracellular electron transfer and accelerates the formation of aggregates. Aggregate formation was also much faster in mutants that were deficient in interspecies hydrogen transfer, further suggesting direct interspecies electron transfer.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                1476-4687
                0028-0836
                Oct 22 2015
                : 526
                : 7574
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
                [2 ] Exobiology Branch, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, USA.
                [3 ] Control and Dynamical Systems, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
                [4 ] SETI Institute, Mountain View, California 94034, USA.
                Article
                nature15512
                10.1038/nature15512
                26375009

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