Methanogenesis in Sulfide and Nitrate Containing Sedimentary Environments

Project Duration: October 2018 – October 2021
Project Sponsor: Volkswagenstiftung
Project Partners: Leibniz- Institute Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries & AUA Acopian Center for the Environment

The Purpose of the Research

Methane (CH4) is an important greenhouse gas, produced in large quantities in aquatic sedimentary environments, significant fractions of which can evade to the atmosphere. Most of the CH4 accumulating in bottom waters of ocean basins or lakes is derived from anoxic sediments.

Although methane production under competitive and inhibitory scenarios is well investigated, there is a gap in our understanding of methanogenic activity in sedimentary environments in the presence of metabolically active sulfate-reducing and denitrifying microbial consortia, a phenomenon observed in multiple hypoxic environments worldwide.

Expected Outcomes

Combining chemical and molecular techniques, the project is expected to shed light on current understanding of the constraints on CH4 accumulation in anoxic zones, and potential emission to the atmosphere under complex biogeochemical conditions.

Results from the experiments will be directly applicable to freshwater and marine environments, and will serve as a baseline to explain the sometimes contradictory and inconclusive data obtained from natural environments.

Additionally, data from the proposed study may provide a basis for extrapolation to future scenarios, in which the methanogenic potential in anoxic zones may be greatly altered, in response to the changes in redox conditions and the expansion of these zones in the global ocean.

The information gained in the proposed study can be used as a platform for environmental decision-making for the management of the hypoxic and anoxic environments.

Project Team


Principal investigator – Natella Mirzoyan, PhD








Research fellow – Vardan Hayrapetyan