baltic sea view

The Baltic Sea’s potential greenhouse gas emissions and ecosystem studied in two new research projects

Marcelo Ketzer and Karin Holmfeldt at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences have received a total of SEK 6.8 million in external funding for two upcoming research projects.

Marcelo Ketzer, professor at the Department of Biology and Environmental Science is allocated SEK 3 million by Formas for the project “Will the microbial filter prevent methane emissions from the Baltic Sea coasts in a warmer future?”

Together with his colleagues, he will install four devices, called OsmoSamplers, which continuously measure the methane concentration in the seabed and register how much methane gas is released into the seawater, and then into the atmosphere.

“This is the first time this technology is being used to study climate changes in the Baltic Sea”, says Ketzer.

Methane, which is a very potent greenhouse gas, forms naturally in the seabed. Most of the methane gas never reaches the surface of the sea as it is consumed by organisms in the sediments, a process called the microbial filter.

At the time being, there is uncertainty concerning how climate changes and a warmer sea will affect the ability of the microbial filter to prevent methane gas from rising from our oceans.

“The results from this study will bring clarity to how the mechanisms that control, and to a large extent prevent, that significant amounts of methane gas is transported from sediments to the water in coastal areas, and possibly the atmosphere, can be affected by global warming”, Ketzer concludes.

New project on the role of viruses in the marine food chain

Karin Holmfeldt, associate professor of ecology, is allocated SEK 3.8 million by the Swedish Research Council for the project “From cells to communities – how virus infections affect the metabolism of aquatic bacteria”.

Much is still unknown about the interplay between viruses and bacteria in the sea, even though their interaction regulates the access to the very smallest components, like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, in the marine food chain.

The new research project aims to provide a fundamental understanding of how viruses affect the metabolism of bacteria.

“This will be studied at different structural levels, from experiments on isolated virus-bacteria model systems to temporal studies in the Baltic Sea, as well as large-scale experiments where the entire microbial community is studied”, Holmfeldt explains.

This knowledge is particularly important in times of climate change.

“The processes can be affected by climate changes, acidification and eutrophication, which are all major problems from a global perspective, but even more so for coastal areas like the Baltic Sea and the Earth’s poles”, Holmfeldt concludes.


More information:

Both projects are part of Linnaeus Knowledge Environment: Water.

Karin Holmfeldt’s project is part of Linnaeus University’s cutting-edge research centre for evolutionary and ecological interactions in the Baltic Sea, Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS).