Methanogens play a critical role in breaking down organic matters under anaerobic ecosystems such as peatlands and anaerobic digestion processes. Additionally, methane production from peatlands is estimated to contribute around 20 percent of total annual methane emissions in the world. Though methane is considered the second-most potent greenhouse gas, it is also a viable alternative energy source as biogas. To learn more about the methanogenic archaea involved in the methane cycle for both reasons, researchers have focused on five methanogenic archaeal cultures: Methanosaeta harundinacea, Methanoregula formicicum and Methanolinea tarda isolated from bioreactors, and Methanobacterium boreale and M. paludis isolated from peatlands.
The closely related methanogens may have a core set of genes as well as accessory genes that help them adapt to various environmental conditions. Having the genomes of several different methanogens will allow researchers to do comparative analyses and identify genes that are involved in hydrogen metabolism, energy conservation, stress adaptation and other unique characteristics.
Principal Investigators: Wen-Tso Liu, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Program: CSP 2010