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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Alejandro Huerta-Hurtado

PhD Student



Project Title: Microbial ecology of methylotrophic methanogenesis in anoxic sediments.


Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and important component of the global carbon cycle. Wetlands are the largest source of natural methane. The great majority of methane in the environment is produced by microorganisms (methanogens) via three pathways: hydrogenotrophic, aceticlastic and methylotrophic. In anoxic saline sediments, methylotrophic methanogenesis is the most significant route to methane production.The most common substrates for this pathway are methanol, trimethylamine (TMA) and dimethylsulfide (DMS). However, we know little about the contribution of these substrates to the total methane production in anoxic wetland sediments.

Further, there is a large gap in our understanding of the diversity and metabolic pathways of microorganisms actively degrade these compounds. In this project, we aim to characterise the diversity and metabolism of methylotrophic methanogens actively degrading methanol, TMA and DMS in anoxic wetland sediments (i.e. coastal peat bogs, saltmarshes and estuaries). We also aim to understand the regulation of these pathways under changing climatic conditions such as increasing temperature and salinity.



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