Geochemical Perspectives Letters: Exchange catalysis during anaerobic methanotrophy revealed by 12CH2D2 and 13CH3D in methane

Jeanine L. Ash, Matthias Egger, Tina Treude, Issaku Kohl, Barry Cragg, R. John Parkes, Caroline Slomp, Barbara Sherwood Lollar and Edward D. Young

Abstract:  The anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) is a crucial component of the methane cycle, but quantifying its role in situ under dynamic environmental conditions remains challenging. We use sediment samples collected during IODP Expedition 347 to the Baltic Sea to show that relative abundances of 12CH2Dand 13CH3D in methane remaining after microbial oxidation are in internal, thermodynamic isotopic equilibrium, and we attribute this phenomenon to the reversibility of the initial step of AOM. These data suggest that 12CH2Dand 13CH3D together can identify the influence of anaerobic methanotrophy in environments where conventional bulk isotope ratios are ambiguous, and these findings may lead to new insights regarding the global significance of enzymatic back reaction in the methane cycle.