Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Methanogenic archaea in subsurface coal seams are biogeographically distinct: An analysis of metagenomically-derived mcrA sequences

April 19, 2022

The production of methane as an end-product of organic matter degradation in the absence of other terminal electron acceptors is common, and has often been studied in environments such as animal guts, soils, and wetlands due to its potency as a greenhouse gas. To date however, the study of the biogeographic distribution of methanogens across coal seam environments has been minimal. Here, we show that coal seams are host to a diverse range of methanogens, which are distinctive to each geological basin. Based on comparisons to close relatives from other methanogenic environments, the dominant methanogenic pathway in these basins is hydrogenotrophic, with acetoclastic being a second major pathway in the Surat Basin. Finally, mcrA and 16S rRNA gene primer biases were predominantly seen to affect the detection of Methanocellales, Methanomicrobiales and Methanosarcinales taxa in this study. Subsurface coal methanogenic community distributions and pathways presented here provide insights into important metabolites and bacterial partners for in situ coal biodegradation.

Related Content