Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

NESSC_Developing biomarker proxies for aerobic and anaerobic methane oxidation (WP1)

Developing biomarker proxies for tracing aerobic methane oxidizers in present and past environments

Atmospheric methane is contributing substantially to the present day global warming and likely has also been instrumental in past greenhouse periods. However, tools for constraining past methane concentrations in the atmosphere and the intensity of methane cycling are lacking. In this project we want to investigate and develop biomarker proxies for aerobic methane oxidizers (AMO), microorganisms that oxidise methane into CO2.

Bacteriohopanepolyols

In particular we will focus on bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs) as potential biomarkers because of their high structural diversity and potential selectivity for bacterial AMO. We will improve the currently used analytical method, which first derivatizes BHPs, to instead analyze intact BHPs directly using HPLC-high resolution mass spectrometry (HRAMS). The improved technology will be applied on biomass of a number of cultivated AMO to constrain the structural diversity in BHPs. In case of unknown or poorly characterized BHPs we will utilize prep-HPLC in combination with NMR to rigorously identify these compounds.

Methylomirabilis oxyfera

These analyses will be combined with stable carbon isotope analyses as methane oxidizers generally utilize 13C-depleted methane to build their biomass. However, one microbe on which we will also focus is Methylomirabilis oxyfera. M. oxyfera produces oxygen from the dismutation of nitrite in order to oxidize methane under anaerobic conditions. This intra-aerobic methane oxidizer potentially influences both the carbon and nitrogen cycles in natural environments. Initial screening of its BHPs and their isotopic composition shows that M. oxyfera are not depleted in 13C due to the utilization of CO2 for lipid production rather than methane.

Alternative lipid proxies

We will further explore the lipid diversity of M. oxyfera, as well as those of other aerobic methane oxidizers, and screen for alternative lipid proxies other than BHPs, in particular in the high molecular weight region outside of the range of GC-MS (>800 Da) but inside the range of HPLC-HRAMS (>1000 to 3000). Newly developed (BHP) biomarkers for AMO will subsequently be applied to paleo-environments where methanotrophy is thought to have been an important process (e.g. periods of wetland expansion, gas hydrate destabilization zones). 

Project information
Linked department:
Funder:
Ministerie van OCW
Duration:
31 Dec 2013 - 11 Jul 2025
Partners
  • Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), The Netherlands
  • Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Wageningen University & Research Centre (WUR), The Netherlands

Meet the team

 
Schouten, Stefan
Senior Scientist
 
Smit, Nadine
PhD student

Linked projects

NESSC_High-resolution organic geochemical proxy records of critical time intervals III (WP2)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
6 Dec 2015 - 10 Jul 2025
NESSC_High-resolution organic geochemical proxy records of critical time intervals III (WP2)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
6 Dec 2015 - 10 Jul 2025
NESSC_A salinity proxy based on specific algal biomarkers δD values (WP1)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
6 Nov 2015 - 28 Feb 2021
NESSC-WP2_High-resolution organic geochemical proxy records of critical time intervals I
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
11 Jul 2015 - 5 Mar 2022
NESSC-WP2_High-resolution organic geochemical proxy records of critical time intervals I
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
11 Jul 2015 - 5 Mar 2022
NESSC_Improving past climate records (WP2)
Supervisor
Gert Jan Reichart
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2023
NESSC_Foraminiferal salinity proxy (WP1)
Supervisor
Gert Jan Reichart
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Aug 2018
NESSC_New generation of foraminiferal proxies (WP1)
Supervisor
Gert Jan Reichart
Funder
NA
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2023
NESSC_High Resolution Organic Geochemical Records (WP2)
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
NESSC_High Resolution Organic Geochemical Records (WP2)
Supervisor
Stefan Schouten
Funder
Ministerie van OCW
Project duration
31 Dec 2013 - 11 Jul 2025

Linked publications

  • 2017
    Frieling, J.; Gebhardt, H.; Huber, M.; Adekeye, O.A.; Akande, S.O.; Reichart, G.-J.; Middelburg, J.J.; Schouten, S.; Sluijs, A. (2017). Extreme warmth and heat-stressed plankton in the tropics during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Science Advances 3(3): e1600891. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1126/sciadv.1600891
    Loomis, S.E.; Russell, J.M.; Verschuren, D.; Morrill, C.; De Cort, G.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Olago, D.; Eggermont, H.; Street-Perrott, F.A.; Kelly, M.A. (2017). The tropical lapse rate steepened during the Last Glacial Maximum. Science Advances 3(1): e1600815. dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1600815
    O'Brien, C.L.; Robinson, S.A.; Pancost, R.D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; Lunt, D.J.; Alsenz, H.; Bornemann, A.; Bottini, C.; Brassell, S.C.; Farnsworth, A.; Forster, A.; Huber, B.T.; Inglis, G.N.; Jenkyns, H.C.; Linnert, C.; Littler, K.; Markwick, P.; McAnena, A.; Mutterlose, J.; Naafs, B.D.A.; Püttmann, W.; Sluijs, A.; van Helmond, N.A.G.M.; Vellekoop, J.; Wagner, T.; Wrobel, N.E. (2017). Cretaceous sea-surface temperature evolution: Constraints from TEX86 and planktonic foraminiferal oxygen isotopes. Earth-Sci. Rev. 172. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.07.012
    Rush, D.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2017). Lipids as paleomarkers to constrain the marine nitrogen cycle. Environ. Microbiol. 19(6): 2119–2132,. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.13682
  • 2016
    Johnson, T.C.; Werne, J.P.; Brown, E.T.; Abbott, A.; Berke, M.; Steinman, B.E.; Halbur, J.; Contreras, S.; Grosshuesch, S.; Deino, A.; Lyons, R.P.; Scholz, C.A.; Schouten, S.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2016). A progressively wetter climate in southern East Africa over the past 1.3 million years. Nature (Lond.) 537(7619): 220-224. dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature19065