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Microbes Involved in Carbon Cycling in a Meteor Impact Crater Lake

Lonar lake in India is a unique ecosystem formed as a result of meteorite impact around 50, 000 years ago. It is the only known impact crater formed on basalt rock and it has been suggested that the geochemistry of Deccan basalt is analogous to the Martian environment. The lake is hypersaline and hyperalkaline. Previous studies, based on cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent, revealed the presence of methanogens. However, until now there has been no report of methanotrophs in this environment. The aims of this project are to:

  • 1.  Analyze methylotrophic community structure in the lonar lake ecosystem using 16S rRNA gene and functional gene based analyses.
  • 2.  To identify active methylotrophic community utilizing methane, methanol and methylamine using stable isotope probing.
  • 3.  To isolate and characterize novel methylotrophic bacteria.
  • 4.  Identify novel properties of isolates for potential in bioremediation and biotransformation reactions.
  • 5.  Characterisation of novel properties of methane monooxygenases at the molecular and biochemical level.