EGU23-2303, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tracking methane fluxes using intact polar and core lipids in an aridity transect of the Okavango Delta (Botswana)

Julie Lattaud1, Mangaliso Gondwe2, Darci Rush3, Ellen Hopmans3, Carole Helfter4, and Cindy De Jonge1
Julie Lattaud et al.
  • 1ETHZ, Geological Institute, Biogeoscience, Zurich, Switzerland (
  • 2Okavango Research Institute (ORI), Gaborone University, Maun, Botswana
  • 3Microbiology and Biogeochemistry Department, NIOZ, Texel, The Netherlands
  • 4UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Penicuik EH26 0QB, UK

Wetland methane (CH4) emissions are the largest natural source in the global CH4 budget, contributing to roughly one third of total natural and anthropogenic emissions. As the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the atmosphere after CO2, CH4 is strongly associated with climate feedbacks. The different pathways of biochemical cycling of CH4, which exert a primary control on atmospheric CH4 concentrations through its production and biological consumption, remain poorly constrained. It is therefore crucial to understand and, if possible, quantify these variable CH4 sources to natural climate variability.

We studied a soil transect (up to seven sites, 250 m long) across a seasonal floodplain at Nxaraga on the south-west part of the Chief’s Island, Okavango Delta, Botswana, over three years (2018 – 2020, 50 samples in total). Previous studies showed a clear link between CH4 fluxes and soil water content in the area, with CH4 fluxes in the seasonally flooded soils of up to 492 nmol m-2 s-1.

To constrain biomass active in CH4 production (specifically, methanogenic archaea) intact and core isoprenoid lipids (and their stable carbon isotope signature) were quantified on a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) and on an high-resolution mass spectrometer ("Orbitrap"). To constrain biomass of CH4 oxidizers (i.e. bacterial methanotrophs), core (hopanol) and intact lipids (i.e., bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs)) were analyzed non-derivatized on an Orbitrap. Confirming their proposed methanotroph source, BHP-aminopentol and methylcarbamate-BHP were detected and their variation correlated positively with those of hopanols and archaeol lipids. Methyl-amino BHPs however were not detected in the soils. In-depth study of their environmental variation points towards two bacterial communities depending on the pH, EC and water content of the soils. This will be confirmed or refuted by bacterial community profiling based on 16S RNA genes, and functional genes for methane oxidation

How to cite: Lattaud, J., Gondwe, M., Rush, D., Hopmans, E., Helfter, C., and De Jonge, C.: Tracking methane fluxes using intact polar and core lipids in an aridity transect of the Okavango Delta (Botswana), EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2303,, 2023.