MEPS 550:53-64 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11705

Seasonal variability in microbial methanol utilisation in coastal waters of the western English Channel

S. L. Sargeant1,3,*, J. C. Murrell2, P. D. Nightingale1, J. L. Dixon1

1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth, Devon PL1 3DH, UK
2School of Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
3Present address: Department of Biological, Biomedical and Analytical Sciences, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Methanol is ubiquitous in seawater and is the most abundant oxygenated volatile organic compound (OVOC) in the atmosphere, where it influences oxidising capacity and ozone formation. Marine methylotrophic bacteria utilise methanol in seawater as an energy and/or growth substrate. This work represents the first fully resolved seasonal study of marine microbial methanol uptake dynamics. Rates of microbial methanol dissimilation in coastal surface waters of the UK varied between 0.7 and 11.2 nmol l-1 h-1 and reached a maximum in February. Rates of microbial methanol assimilation varied between 0.04 and 2.64 × 10-2 nmol l-1 h-1 and reached a maximum in August. Temporal variability in microbial methanol uptake rates shows that methanol assimilation and dissimilation display opposing seasonal cycles, although overall, <1% of methanol was assimilated. Correlative approaches with 16S rRNA pyrosequencing data suggested that bacteria of the SAR11 clade and Rhodobacterales could be significantly influencing rates of methanol dissimilation and assimilation, respectively, at Station L4 in the western English Channel.


KEY WORDS: 14CH3OH · Bacterial growth efficiency · Methanol uptake · Methylotrophic bacteria · Marine


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Cite this article as: Sargeant SL, Murrell JC, Nightingale PD, Dixon JL (2016) Seasonal variability in microbial methanol utilisation in coastal waters of the western English Channel. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 550:53-64. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11705

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