Methane oxidation is an important process for the regulation of methane emissions from lakes. The MOBtrait project combines microbial ecology, physiology, and modeling in an interdisciplinary effort to achieve fundamental progress in our understanding of the ecology of aerobic methane oxidizing bacteria in freshwater systems and towards predicting system development under dynamically changing conditions.
We are studying in detail the distribution of different subpopulations of methanotrophic bacteria in different stratified lakes. Through a combination of observational studies, isolation and characterization of freshwater methanotrophs from the lakes, we are gathering information about the physiological and ecological characteristics of these populations. In the laboratory, we will determine the decisive factors for niche separation in experiments.
These experiments and field data are used to develop and interactively improve a model for methane oxidation in lakes that explicitly takes microbial populations and their trait distributions into account. We are assessing if such a population-explicit model can provide a better model for methane dynamics in lakes, especially for temporally dynamic systems.
MOBtrait involves two PhD students, a Master student and an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Eawag and ETH Zurich.