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  1. Abstract

    Anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM), a central process in the carbon cycle of anoxic environments, moderates the release of methane from soils and sediments to water bodies and, ultimately, the atmosphere. The regulation of AOM in the environment remains poorly constrained. Here we quantified AOM and sulfate reduction (SR) rates in diverse deep seafloor samples at in situ pressure and methane concentration and discovered that, in some cases, AOM exceeded SR rates by more than four times when methane concentrations were above 5 mM. Methane concentration also affected other carbon‐cycling processes (e.g., carbon assimilation) in addition to SR. These results illustrate that substantial amounts of methane may be oxidized independent of SR under in situ conditions, reshaping our view of the capacity and mechanism of AOM in methane‐rich environments, including the deep biosphere, where sulfate availability is considered to limit AOM.

     
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