Methanogen activity in relation to water table level in two boreal fens

Mirkka Kotiaho, Hannu Fritze, Päivi Merilä, Heli Juottonen, Mirva Leppälä, Jukka Laine, Raija Laiho, Kim Yrjälä, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We studied methanogen activity—measured by in vitro methane production potential and by detection of the messenger RNA (mRNA) of a functional gene—in two boreal fens under high and deep water table (WT) level conditions resulting from a rainy growing season and a dry growing season. The depth of the highest CH4-producing layers differed between the years. In the wet year, the highest CH4 production rate was around 20 cm below the mean WT. In the dry year, the highest rates were measured close to the peat surface, well above the mean WT. The distribution of activity in the peat profiles of the two fens appeared to be site specific. Under deep-WT conditions, CH4 production potential was generally lower than that under high-WT conditions. Detection of the mRNA of the methanogen-specific mcrA gene indicated in situ methanogenesis in both water-saturated peat (below the WT) and unsaturated peat (above the WT). Analyses of DNA-derived and mRNA-derived methanogen community structures showed greater similarity between those two in water-saturated peat than in unsaturated peat. This suggested that favorable conditions promoted the activity of most members in methanogen communities,
but unfavorable conditions showed differences between distinct community members in adaptation to adverse conditions. (C) Springer-Verlag 2010
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 118 Biological sciences

Cite this

Kotiaho, M., Fritze, H., Merilä, P., Juottonen, H., Leppälä, M., Laine, J., Laiho, R., Yrjälä, K., & Tuittila, E-S. (2010). Methanogen activity in relation to water table level in two boreal fens. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 46, 567-575.