EESS talk on "Biological methane sources and sinks; two case studies"


Event details

Date 29.11.2022
Hour 12:1513:15
Speaker Dr Ianina Altshuler, Tenure Track Assistant professor, Microbiome Adaptation to the Changing Environment (MACE), ALPOLE-Sion
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Anthropogenically driven climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) has multitudes of negative impacts including increases in extreme weather events, melting of glaciers and degradation of permafrost, loss of biodiversity, and reduction in crop yields. Methane (CH4) is of increasing concern as it is ~25 times stronger at trapping heat in the atmosphere compared to CO2. Multiple microbially driven sources and sinks of methane contribute to overall changes in its atmospheric concentrations. Microbially driven sources of methane can be both anthropogenic and natural including agricultural and livestock emissions, decomposition permafrost carbon stores, and wetland emissions. However, biological sinks of methane are more difficult to track and mainly include soil CH4 sinks. Here I will present two studies that demonstrate examples of CH4 sinks and sources. Through in situ field measurements, the first study aimed to understand the fluxes of methane from permafrost affected soils and determined that oligotrophic high-Arctic soils can be sinks of CH4. Furthermore, both cultured and uncultured methanotrophic microbial organism likely responsible for the negative flux were identified via metagenomics in this study. The second study aimed to understand the relationship between microbe-host molecular interactions (via metaproteomics) in relation to emissions of CH4 from agricultural beef cattle. Ruminants such as cattle are entirely dependent on rumen microbiota for survival as it is essential in allowing the host to utilise indigestible plant fibers via microbial fermentation. However, often CH4 is produced in this system and constitutes both the loss of energy for the host and release of CH4 to the atmosphere. Understanding the relationship between microbial and host protein expression patterns could elucidate rumen microbiome-dependent mechanisms responsible for both feed efficiency and CH4 production in cattle and provide future avenues of better agricultural practices. Overall, the seminar aims to demonstrate microbial studies in two different ecosystems (natural and agricultural) that both contribute to atmospheric methane concentrations.

Short biography:
Dr. Ianina Altshuler is an Arctic/Alpine field and experimental microbial ecologist. She holds an Honours BSc in Biological Sciences from York University and an MSc in Environmental Sciences from Windsor University. Dr. Altshuler completed her PhD in Environmental Microbiology at McGill University (Quebec, Canada) working on the microbial responses to climate warming in Arctic permafrost soils and microbial contributions to biogeochemical cycles. Following this she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences studying greenhouse gas mitigating strategies in agriculture through engineering of specialized microbial communities. Currently, she is a tenure track Assistant Professor at ALPOLE, EPFL studying environmental adaptation strategies of cryosphere microorganism

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free
  • This event is internal


  • EESS - IIE


  • Prof. D. Andrew Barry, IIE Director


Methanogens methanotrophs methane flux soil rumen