Production and oxidation of methane by complex anaerobic communities
Methane is a trace greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere and its concentration has more than doubled since industrialization.It is the second most important greenhouse gas, which is 25-30 times more potent compared to carbon dioxide. Biogenic production of methane is solely ascribed to strictly anaerobic archaea (methanogens), mostly found in the deeper layers of sediments or water columns. On its way to the atmosphere methane travels through anoxic layers before reaching the oxic sediment or water column. Along this route methane can be oxidized, both aerobically or anaerobically, which significantly mitigates the emission of this greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.
With the current trend of global warming and anthropogenic activities, it is unclear how ecosystems will respond to this with respect to methane production, consumption and thus ultimately emission of methane to the atmosphere. It is of utmost concern to improve our understanding of the microbial players in the methane cycle, their metabolic pathways,environmental significance and interactions in microbial communities, and their responses to environmental changes. Work package 2 focuses on these research questions.