Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but it is also a potential source of energy. Microbes found in marine or terrestrial environments that are involved in maintaining the levels of greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are of interest to the U.S. Department of Energy for reasons other than their roles in the global carbon cycle. Some of these microbes can also be used in bioremediation applications to remove hazardous pollutants such as compounds that increase the oxygen content in gasoline, or to remove nitrogen from sewage. One of the earliest metagenomics projects at the DOE JGI involved studying sediments from Lake Washington near the city of Seattle, Wash. and determining the microbial pathways used to cycle nitrogen and use methane as an energy source. This follow-up project builds on that first proof-of-concept approach, exploring additional sediment samples from a wider range of environments and employing newer sequencing technologies to characterize novel microbes and determine their roles in the global carbon and nitrogen cycles, specifically with regard to methane oxidation and denitrification.
Principal Investigators: Ludmila Chistoserdova, University of Washington
Program: CSP 2010