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Doctoral projects
© Stian Torset

The inves­ti­ga­tion of the forma­tion- and purpose of black matter in anaer­o­bic methane oxidis­ers and methanogens

Stian Torset – Hector Fellow Antje Boetius

The project inves­ti­gates the struc­ture, purpose, and mecha­nisms of origin for amorphous carbon formed by methanogenic and methane-oxidiz­ing archaea. I will use advanced biophys­i­cal, compu­ta­tional, and genetic tools to deter­mine the genes, proteins and struc­tures, includ­ing the molec­u­lar mecha­nisms involved in the forma­tion of this carbon. Poten­tial appli­ca­tions will be assessed. The project is super­vised by Hector Fellow Antje Boetius.

The project inves­ti­gates the forma­tion of amorphous carbon by archaea. So far this carbon has been identi­fied in select methanogenic and methane-oxidiz­ing archaea, yet the role of this carbon and molec­u­lar mecha­nisms under­ly­ing its forma­tion are completely unknown. In the first phase of my PhD project, I will study the distri­b­u­tion of these carbon species in differ­ent archaea, and will employ biophys­i­cal methods such as high-resolu­tion microscopy to deter­mine its chemi­cal and physi­cal nature. Under­stand­ing these charac­ter­is­tics will be crucial to identify best target organ­isms to charac­ter­ize this novel metabolic product. I will use molec­u­lar approaches to study the mecha­nisms under­ly­ing the forma­tion of this carbon. Metatran­scrip­tomics will help to identify target genes poten­tially coding for enzymes involved in the forma­tion of amorphous carbon. Based on such a target list I will use gene-editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas 9 to narrow down an involve­ment of encoded candi­date enzymes in amorphous carbon forma­tion. Struc­tural analy­ses of such enzymes and biochem­i­cal exper­i­ments will help to resolve function­ing of such enzymes. In addition, I will join ship-based expedi­tion to gas-rich cold seeps such as found in the Black Sea to inves­ti­gate the environ­men­tal role of micro­bially produced amorphous carbon. The project is super­vised by Hector Fellow Antje Boetius.

Bildung von amorphen Kohlstoff durch methanogene und methanoxidierende Archaeen

Stian Torset

Max Planck Insti­tute for Marine Microbiology

Super­vised by

Prof. Dr.

Antje Boetius


Hector Fellow since 2013