Methanogenic archaea survive under aerated soil conditions in paddy fields, and their community is stable under these conditions. Changes in the abundance and composition of an active community of methanogenic archaea were assessed by analyzing mcrA gene (encoding α subunit of methyl-coenzyme M reductase) and transcripts during a prolonged drained period in a paddy-upland rotational field. Paddy rice (Oryza sativa L.) was planted in the flooded field and rotated with soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.) under upland soil conditions. Soil samples were collected from the rotational plot in the first year, with paddy rice, and in the two successive years, with soybean, at six time points, before seeding, during cultivation, and after harvest as well as from a consecutive paddy (control) plot. By the time that soybean was grown in the second year, the methanogenic archaeal community in the rotational plot maintained high mcrA transcript levels, comparable with those of the control plot community, but the levels drastically decreased by over three orders of magnitude after 2 years of upland conversion. The composition of active methanogenic archaeal communities that survived upland conversion in the rotational plot was similar to that of the active community in the control plot. These results revealed that mcrA gene transcription of methanogenic archaeal community in the rotational field was affected by a prolonged non-flooding period, longer than 1 year, indicating that unknown mechanisms maintain the stability of methanogenic archaeal community in paddy fields last up to 1 year after the onset of drainage.
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