Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Nadine Smit

PhD student
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 420
Location
Texel
Function
PhD student
University
Universiteit Utrecht
Promotor
Stefan Schouten

My project deals with the development of new lipid biomarker proxies for an-/aerobic methane oxidizers in past and present environments within the Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NESSC). A better understanding of the cycling of the greenhouse gas methane (CH4) including the sources, sinks and chemical reaction pathways is important in order to constrain its impact on global climate changes. However, applicable tools for determining past methane concentrations in the atmosphere and the intensity of methane cycling are currently lacking. Therefore, our goal is to develop these lacking lipid biomarker proxies for methane oxidation in past and present environments.

To develop new lipid biomarker proxies I’m working on different smaller projects with various classes of hopanoids like bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs) as potential methane biomarkers for an-/aerobic methane oxidation. Hopanoids are known for their high structural diversity and potential selectivity as well as stable diagenetic products in the environment and microbial cultures.  

One example for this work is the unique methane oxidizing bacteria Methylomirabilis oxyfera which produces internal oxygen from nitrite in order to oxidize methane under anaerobic conditions (intercellular AMO). This special bacteria influences both the carbon and the nitrogen cycle and produces characteristic BHPs (3-methyl BHP hexol) and other characteristic lipids (e.g. fatty acids). For this project with Methylomirabilis oxyfera we are cooperating with the Microbiology department of Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Within this project the ultimate purpose is to develop a new proxy to study intercellular AMO in marine paleo- environments to better understand its impact on the carbon and nitrogen cycle.

Newly developed biomarkers for methane oxidation will be applied to present and paleo-environments where methanothrophy is thought to be or have been an important process (e.g. oxygen minimum zones or methane seeps).

 

Education

10/2013 - 05/2016

Master of Marine Geosciences at the University of Bremen, Germany

Focus: Biogeochemistry, Geophysics and Marine Resources

Master thesis: Geochemical characterization of asphalt deposits in the Campeche Bay (southern Gulf of Mexico) - Insights in the persistence of heavy oil in the marine environment

10/2010 – 09/2013

Bachelor of Geosciences at the University of Bremen, Germany

Focus: Geochemistry, Marine Geology and Geodynamics

Bachelor thesis: Evaluation of the TEX86- paleotemperature proxy by archaeen cultures

 

Work experience

12/2011-03/2016

Student Assistant in the research group “Organic Geochemistry” MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany

11/2015

Internship in the framework of the Master thesis at Shell Global Solutions, Rijswijk, Netherlands

04/2105-07/2015

Research project in the research group “Organic Paleobiogeochemistry” MARUM and MPI, University of Bremen, Germany

 

Awards and scholarships

05/2017

MARUM Research Award for Marine Science 2017 for master thesis - Geochemical characterization of asphalt deposits in the Campeche Bay (southern Gulf of Mexico)

11/2016

EAOG (European Association of Organic Geochemists) Travel Scholarship Award 2016

 

Links

 

Linked projects

NESSC_Developing biomarker proxies for aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidation (WP1)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
31 Dec 2013 - 11 Jul 2025
NESSC_Developing biomarker proxies for aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidation (WP1)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
31 Dec 2013 - 11 Jul 2025