Symbiosis of sulfate-reducing bacteria and methanogenic archaea in sewer systems
Xuan Shia,b, Ge Gaoa, Jiameng Tiana, Xiaochang C.Wanga,c, Xin Jina,b, Pengkang Jina,c
School of Environmental and Municipal Engineering, Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province 710055, China.
Sulfide and methane emissions always simultaneously exist in natural environment and constitute a major topic of societal concern. However, the metabolic environments between sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and methanogenic archaea (MA) exist a great difference, which seems to be opposite to the coexisting phenomenon. To explore this issue, the comprehensive biofilm structures, substrate consuming and metabolism pathways of SRB and MA were investigated in a case study of urban sewers. The results showed that, due to the stricter environmental requirements of MA than SRB, SRB became the preponderant microorganism which promoted the rapid generation of sulfide in the initial period of biofilm formation. According to a metagenomic analysis, the SRB appeared to be more preferential than MA in sewers, and the preponderant SRB could provide a key medium (Methyl-coenzyme M) for methane metabolism. Therefore, the diversity of MA gradually increased, and the symbiosis system formed preliminarily. In addition, via L-cysteine, methane metabolism also participated in sulfide consumption which was involved in cysteine and methionine metabolism. This phenomenon of sulfide consumption led to the forward reaction of sulfide metabolism, which could promote sulfide generation while stabilizing the pH value (H+ concentration) and S2- concentrations which should have inhibited SRB and MA production. Therefore, the heavily intertwined interactions between sulfide and methane metabolism provided environmental security for SRB and MA, and completely formed the symbiosis between SRB and MA. Based on these findings, an ecological model involving synergistic mechanism between sulfide and methane generation is proposed and this model can also improve understanding on the symbiosis of SRB and MA in the natural environment.
Keywords: Sulfate-reducing bacteria, Methanogenic archaea, Symbiosis mechanism, Urban sewer system, Ecological system.