Microbial sensitivity to temperature and sulfate deposition modulates greenhouse gas emissions from peat soils

Roya AminiTabrizi, Nathalia Graf-Grachet, Rosalie K. Chu, Jason G. Toyoda, David W. Hoyt, Rasha Hamdan, Rachel M. Wilson, Malak M. Tfaily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Peatlands are among the largest natural sources of atmospheric methane (CH4) worldwide. Microbial processes play a key role in regulating CH4 emissions from peatland ecosystems, yet the complex interplay between soil substrates and microbial communities in controlling CH4 emissions as a function of global change remains unclear. Herein, we performed an integrated analysis of multi-omics data sets to provide a comprehensive understanding of the molecular processes driving changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in peatland ecosystems with increasing temperature and sulfate deposition in a laboratory incubation study. We sought to first investigate how increasing temperatures (4, 21, and 35°C) impact soil microbiome–metabolome interactions; then explore the competition between methanogens and sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRBs) with increasing sulfate concentrations at the optimum temperature for methanogenesis. Our results revealed that peat soil organic matter degradation, mediated by biotic and potentially abiotic processes, is the main driver of the increase in CO2 production with temperature. In contrast, the decrease in CH4 production at 35°C was linked to the absence of syntrophic communities and the potential inhibitory effect of phenols on methanogens. Elevated temperatures further induced the microbial communities to develop high growth yield and stress tolerator trait-based strategies leading to a shift in their composition and function. On the other hand, SRBs were able to outcompete methanogens in the presence of non-limiting sulfate concentrations at 21°C, thereby reducing CH4 emissions. At higher sulfate concentrations, however, the prevalence of communities capable of producing sufficient low-molecular-weight carbon substrates for the coexistence of SRBs and methanogens was translated into elevated CH4 emissions. The use of omics in this study enhanced our understanding of the structure and interactions among microbes with the abiotic components of the system that can be useful for mitigating GHG emissions from peatland ecosystems in the face of global change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1951-1970
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • CO and CH emissions
  • elevated temperatures
  • high-resolution mass spectrometry
  • microbial adaptations
  • multi-omics
  • peatlands
  • soil organic matter
  • sulfate deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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