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Our goal is to clarify the role of the underwater biological community in mediating the release of methane from the seabed into the ocean and atmosphere by evaluating the range of biological responses to varying intensities of methane seeps.


It is uncertain how, and to what extent, methane release from gas hydrates affects life on the seabed, such as benthic organisms, communities, microorganisms and food web structures. This research group has been established in order to dig further into this mystery. Our studies are linked to, and coordinated with, geochemical, sedimentological and water column studies of the CAGE team. In the coming years, WP3 will emphasize microbiology and the sensitivity of cold adapted microbial sub-seabed ecosystem’s importance for methane emissions. A new and unique infrastructure, the Ice-Cold Microorganisms Laboratory (ICOM), will be a novel tool to address biodiversity, activity and evolution of cold loving microbes.

Main questions

  • How is  life on the seabed affected by methane release from gas hydrate dissociation?
  • What is the role of the seafloor biological communities in mediating the exchange of methane from seafloor sediments into the water column?
  • How does the sub-seabed microbial communities and networks respond to changes in temperature and substrate availability?
  • How active is the methane oxidizing filter in the water column?

Major aims

  • Understand habitat characteristics and locations of seep communities.
  • Document the characteristics of microbial communities in sediments and the water column, including methanotrophic activity and community composition.
  • Decipher life cycles of macrobenthic and microbial communities, along with the ecological structure and function of communities and food webs associated with seafloor methane emissions.
  • Understand responses and evolution of cold seep biological communities.
  • Get in-depth knowledge of the cold seep microbial structures, adaptations and evolution.
Team members

Vincent Carrier
PhD candidate

Dimitri Kalenitchenko
Post Doctoral Fellow

Helge Niemann
Professor II