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Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Volker Müller

Methane is a very potent green house gas that is 30times as effective as carbon dioxide. The atmospheric methane concentration has steadily increased in the last decades and methane production is nearly exclusively due to the metabolic activity of a group of strictly anaerobic archaea (archaebacteria), the methanogens. Methanogens thrive on a limited number of substrates such as H2 + CO2, methyl-groups, carbon monoxide or some on acetate. Methane (and carbon dioxide) is/are the only products of their metabolism.

We are interested in the biochemistry of methane formation, the enzymes involved and have identified a unique, Na+-transporting enzyme coupled to methanogenesis. This results in a Na+ dependence of methanogenesis but higher Na+ concentrations are inhibitory. Currently, we address the role of Na+ in the bioenergetics of our model organism Methanosarcina mazei and, in addition, analyze on a molecular level how M. mazei copes with elevated Na+ concentrations in its environment. Focus is on the physiological role and biochemical mode of action of Na+/H+ antiporters.



Katharina Schlegel, Ph.D. student


Schlegel, K. & V. Müller (2013) : Evolution of Na+ and H+ bioenergetics in methanogenic archaea. - Biochemical Society Transactions 41: 421-426.

Schlegel, K., Leone, V., Faraldo-Gomez, J.D. & V. Müller (2012) : Promiscuous archaeal ATP synthase concurrently coupled to Na+ and H+ translocation. - PNAS 109: 947-952.

Schlegel, K., Welte, C., Deppenmeier, U. & V. Müller (2012) : Electron transport during aceticlastic methanogenesis by Methanosarcina acetivorans involves a sodium-translocating Rnf complex. - FEBS Journal 279: 4444-4452.

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