This study examined physiochemical conditions and prokaryotic community structure (the bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes and mcrA gene abundances and proportions), and evaluated the effect of reed canary grass cultivation and mineral fertilisation on these factors, in the 60 cm thick residual peat layer of experimental plots located on an abandoned peat extraction area. The archaeal proportion was 0.67-39.56% in the prokaryotic community and the methanogens proportion was 0.01-1.77% in the archaeal community. When bacterial abundance was higher in the top 20 cm of peat, the archaea were more abundant in the 20-60 cm layer and methanogens in the 40-60 cm layer of the residual peat. The bacterial abundance was significantly increased, but archaeal abundance was not affected by cultivation. The fertiliser application had a slight effect on peat properties and on archaeal and methanogen abundances in the deeper layer of cultivated peat. The CH4 emission was positively related to mcrA abundance in the 20-60 cm of the bare peat, while in case of reed canary grass cultivation these two parameters were not correlated. Reed canary grass cultivation mitigated CH4 emission, although methanogen abundance remained approximately the same or even increased in different layers of residual peat under cultivated sites over time. This study supports the outlook of using abandoned peat extraction areas to produce reed canary grass for energy purposes as an advisable landuse practice from the perspective of atmospheric impact in peatland-rich Northern Europe.
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© 2016 Espenberg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Ants Kaasik for his helpful suggestions on statistical data analysis methods and
Dr. Patrick Joseph McNamara for his helpful comments on the manuscript.