Time & Energy

In high Arctic peatlands organic matter is slowly decomposed by large and complex microbial communities. In the upper few centimeters of soil, aerobic microorganisms are degrading fresh organic matter deposited by mosses, grasses, and other vascular plants to form CO2 (see InterAct project). The organic matter that is not decomposed in the top layer is transformed and to some extent mineralized through anaerobic decomposition to methane and CO2 in the deeper layers.

In these deeper layers our emphasis is on syntrophic fermentation and methanogenesis. These are the terminal processes in anaerobic mineralization of organic matter and driven by a few specialist bacteria and archaea. These are also the lifestyles that provide the least energy. Syntrophy and methanogenesis are key processes in greenhouse gas production, but sensitive to environmental change as they represent difficult microbial lifestyles. Our objective is to understand how these sensitive and important microbial processes react to changes in temperature and other environmental conditions. By this, we hope to uncover how the climate controls microbial production of greenhouse gases in high Arctic peatlands.


Yngvild Bjørdal @ work, handling anoxic peat soil samples. Pictures: Liabo Motleleng

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Yngvild BjørdalRapid microbial responses to temperature changes in Arctic anoxic peat soil. 2021. Master thesis

Jeanette Slettnes GrunnvågTime dependent temperature effects on methane production in Arctic peat soils. 2019. Master thesis


Further reading:

Tveit et alMetabolic and trophic interactions modulate methane production by Arctic peat microbiota in response to warming. 2015. PNAS

Tveit et alOrganic carbon transformations in high-Arctic peat soils: key functions and microorganisms. 2012. The ISME Journal


Andreas Richter - University of Vienna

Thomas Rattei - University of Vienna 

Susanne Liebner - GFZ Potsdam

Sizhong Yang - GFZ Potsdam

Financial/grant information:

Tromsø Research Foundation (TSF) - 17_SG_ATT

Time and Energy 251027/RU (Research Council of Norway FRIPRO Mobility Grant cofounded by ERC under Marie Curie Grant 606895)





Last update: July, 2022