Grasslands established on drained peat soils are regarded as negligible methane (CH4) sources; however, they can still exhibit considerable soil CH4 dynamics. We investigated archaeal community composition in two different fen peat soils and one bog peat soil under permanent grassland in Denmark. We used terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) fingerprinting and clone libraries to characterize the soils' archaeal community composition to gain a better understanding of relationships between peat properties and land use, respectively, and CH4 dynamics. Samples were taken at three different depths and at four different seasons. Archaeal community composition varied considerably between the three peatlands and, to a certain degree, also with peat depth, but seemed to be quite stable at individual sampling depths throughout the year. Archaeal community composition was mainly linked to soil pH. No methanogens were detected at one fen site with soil pH ranging from 3.2 to 4.4. The methanogenic community of the bog (soil pH 3.9–4.6) was dominated by hydrogenotrophs, whereas the second fen site (soil pH 5.0–5.3) comprised both aceticlastic and hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Overall, there seemed to be a significant coupling between peat type and archaeal community composition, with local hydrology modifying the strength of this coupling.
F E M S Microbiology Ecology, 2013, Vol 85, Issue 2, p. 227-240