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Increasing sulfate levels show a differential impact on synthetic communities comprising different methanogens and a sulfate reducer

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthew WadeORCiD, Dr Jan DolfingORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Methane-producing microbial communities are of ecological and biotechnological interest. Syntrophic interactions among sulfate reducers and aceto/hydrogenotrophic and obligate hydrogenotrophic methanogens form a key component of these communities, yet, the impact of these different syntrophic routes on methane production and their stability against sulfate availability are not well understood. Here, we construct model synthetic communities using a sulfate reducer and two types of methanogens representing different methanogenesis routes. We find that tri-cultures with both routes increase methane production by almost twofold compared to co-cultures and are stable in the absence of sulfate. With increasing sulfate, system stability and productivity decreases and does so faster in communities with aceto/hydrogenotrophic methanogens despite the continued presence of acetate. We show that this is due to a shift in the metabolism of these methanogens towards co-utilization of hydrogen with acetate. These findings indicate the important role of hydrogen dynamics in the stability and productivity of syntrophic communities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chen J, Wade MJ, Dolfing J, Soyer OS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Society, Interface

Year: 2019

Volume: 16

Issue: 154

Print publication date: 31/05/2019

Online publication date: 08/05/2019

Acceptance date: 09/04/2019

Date deposited: 29/05/2019

ISSN (print): 1742-5689

ISSN (electronic): 1742-5662

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2019.0129

PubMed id: 31064258


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