Methane hydrates are pockets of methane trapped inside a solid structure of water and are often found in ocean floor sediments. Marine continental margin sediments that bear these methane hydrates are estimated to contain up to 2,000 billion metric tons of methane. Anaerobic methanotrophic archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria (ANME-SRB consortia) account for the oxidation of more than 90 percent of dissolved methane fluxing through methane hydrate-bearing marine continental margin sediments. Little is known about the cellular-level function of ANME-SRB consortia or the response of these consortia to changes in methane flux. This project aims to develop a coupled metabolic model of an ANME-SRB consortium in order to elucidate intercellular interactions between microbial partners within the consortium and predictively analyze how these consortia respond to changes in sediment methane flux. Developing a predictive understanding of climate-driven changes in methane hydrate stability is critical to understanding future changes in global carbon cycling and climate.
Proposer’s Name: Frederick Colwell