Thermal acclimation of methanotrophs from the genus Methylobacter

Alexander T Tveit, Andrea Söllinger, Edda Marie Rainer, Alena Didriksen, Anne Grethe Hestnes, Liabo Motleleng, Hans-Jörg Hellinger, Thomas Rattei, Mette M Svenning

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Methanotrophs oxidize most of the methane (CH4) produced in natural and anthropogenic ecosystems. Often living close to soil surfaces, these microorganisms must frequently adjust to temperature change. While many environmental studies have addressed temperature effects on CH4 oxidation and methanotrophic communities, there is little knowledge about the physiological adjustments that underlie these effects. We have studied thermal acclimation in Methylobacter, a widespread, abundant, and environmentally important methanotrophic genus. Comparisons of growth and CH4 oxidation kinetics at different temperatures in three members of the genus demonstrate that temperature has a strong influence on how much CH4 is consumed to support growth at different CH4 concentrations. However, the temperature effect varies considerably between species, suggesting that how a methanotrophic community is composed influences the temperature effect on CH4 uptake. To understand thermal acclimation mechanisms widely we carried out a transcriptomics experiment with Methylobacter tundripaludum SV96T. We observed, at different temperatures, how varying abundances of transcripts for glycogen and protein biosynthesis relate to cellular glycogen and ribosome concentrations. Our data also demonstrated transcriptional adjustment of CH4 oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation, membrane fatty acid saturation, cell wall composition, and exopolysaccharides between temperatures. In addition, we observed differences in M. tundripaludum SV96T cell sizes at different temperatures. We conclude that thermal acclimation in Methylobacter results from transcriptional adjustment of central metabolism, protein biosynthesis, cell walls and storage. Acclimation leads to large shifts in CH4 consumption and growth efficiency, but with major differences between species. Thus, our study demonstrates that physiological adjustments to temperature change can substantially influence environmental CH4 uptake rates and that consideration of methanotroph physiology might be vital for accurate predictions of warming effects on CH4 emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-513
Number of pages12
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 106026 Ecosystem research
  • 106022 Microbiology


  • Ecosystem
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Methane/metabolism
  • Soil/chemistry

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