Carbon cycling and methane in permafrost ecosystems

Increases in the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases (GHG) are one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Arctic permafrost soils represent a source for GHG causing positive climate feedbacks from the terrestrial ecosystem to the atmosphere. Vast amounts of organic carbon mainly plant derived are stored in boreal and Arctic ecosystems representing twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The microbial community has a key role for organic carbon degradation and the emission of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The extent of GHG emission depends on a set of biotic and abiotic factors and interactions between these.

The research seeks to; i) explore microbial genomic diversity and functional potential in different microhabitats, ii) assess the critical temperature window for anaerobic/aerobic processes related to methane transformation, iii) identify possible indicator organisms and/or genes with high responsiveness to climate changes iv) isolate methane oxidising bacteria. Advanced high resolution molecular methods combined with bioinformatics and cultivation of microorganisms are applied in the projects.

Contact person: Professor Mette Marianne Svenning.