School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Quantifying Aerobic Methane Oxidation

Quantifying Aerobic Methane Oxidation in the ocean: Calibration and palaeo application of a novel proxy (AMOProx)

Methane is a key greenhouse gas and its release to the atmosphere is modulated microbially by two pathways; an aerobic and an anaerobic pathway.

Project Leader: Dr Helen Talbot
Sponsors: European Research Council (ERC)
Start/end dates: 2010-2015

Project Details

Research on the marine methane cycle has focussed on anaerobic processes but recent biomarker data has provided compelling evidence that aerobic methane oxidation (AMO) may play a much more significant role in reducing the amount of methane emitted from sediments than previously considered.

AMO in these settings is poorly understood and a more complete understanding of present and past methane fluxes requires novel proxies that can be applied to present days samples and linked to the sedimentary record.

This study fills this gap by targeting complex lipids biosynthesised by aerobic methanotrophs known as aminobacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs).

Here we investigate the regulation and expression of BHPs and calibrate BHPs signatures against environmental variables including temperature, pH, salinity and methane concentrations and fluxes to identify markers that correlate BHP concentration and composition with environmental conditions.


Handley L, Talbot HM, Cooke MP, Anderson KE, Wagner T. Bacteriohopanepolyols as tracers for continental and marine organic matter supply and phases of enhanced nitrogen cycling on the late Quaternary Congo deep sea fan. Organic Geochemistry 2010, 41(9), 910-914.

Zhu C, Talbot HM, Wagner T, Pan JM, Pancost RD. Intense aerobic methane oxidation in the Yangtze Estuary: A record from 35-aminobacteriohopanepolyols in surface sediments. Organic Geochemistry 2010, 41(9), 1056-1059.

Academic Staff

  • Dr Helen Talbot


  • Dr Angela Sherry


  • Miss Frances Dunn

PhD students

  • Miss Kate Osborne
  • Miss Charlotte Spencer-Jones