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Climate change & ecosystem health: Microbial interactions and its impact on methane flux in lake ecosystems

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr D Kumaresan  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Methane is next only to CO2 as a greenhouse gas and its atmospheric concentrations has increased 2.5-fold since preindustrial times. This project will develop an integrated pipeline real-time methane flux profiling that will be coupled with molecular ecology tools to link microbial community-level interactions that impact methane budgets.  

It has been estimated that since 1980 natural sources (e.g., natural wetlands, freshwaters) havecontributed to 33-54% of global methane emissions and anthropogenic sources (e.g.,agriculture, fossil fuels) accounted for 46-67%. Biogenic methane cycling is modulated by twogroups of microorganisms: methane production in anoxic environments by methanogenicarchaea and a specialised group of organisms that consume methane in oxic conditions.  

The project will use a multiscale approach to combine environmental microbiome, and photonics based miniature gas sensors that will offer high-resolution spatial and temporal mapping of gas fluxes, nutrient levels and microbial activity at the ecosystem level in Irish freshwater lake ecosystems. The key objectives include i) to understand how nutrients levels in lakes impact microbial community interactions and C transfer from methane, ii) to couple real-time monitoring of methane flux with environmental genomics to constrain drivers of methane flux and iii) to build a predictive tool box that integrates data on nutrient levels, microbial functional diversity and sensor networks to methane flux.  

Collaborators: Dr William-Whelan Curtin and Dr Chinna Devarapu, MUT, Cork, Ireland 

Start Date: October 2022

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