Oxic methane production from methylphosphonate in a large oligotrophic lake: limitation by substrate and organic carbon supply

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Methane is an important greenhouse gas that is typically produced under anoxic conditions. We show that methane is supersaturated in a large oligotrophic lake despite the presence of oxygen. Metagenomic sequencing indicates that diverse, widespread microorganisms may contribute to the oxic production of methane through the cleavage of methylphosphonate. We experimentally demonstrate that these organisms, especially members of the genus , can produce methane through this process. However, appreciable rates of methane production only occurred when both methylphosphonate and labile sources of carbon were added, indicating that this process may be limited to specific niches and may not be completely responsible for methane concentrations in Flathead Lake. This work adds to our understanding of methane dynamics by describing the organisms and the rates at which they can produce methane through an oxic pathway in a representative oligotrophic lake.

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Applied and environmental microbiology