Thursday, August 31, 2017

Researchers Tackle Methane Emissions with Gas-Guzzling Bacteria

The sampling site used to isolate the methanotroph, namely a geothermal field in Rotokawa, New Zealand. [Credit: Dr Carlo Carere (GNS Science)] Click to Enlarge.
An international research team co-led by a Monash biologist has shown that methane-oxidising bacteria -- key organisms responsible for greenhouse gas mitigation -- are more flexible and resilient than previously thought.

Soil bacteria that oxidize methane (methanotrophs) are globally important in capturing methane before it enters the atmosphere, and we now know that they can consume hydrogen gas to enhance their growth and survival.

This new research, published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal, has major implications for greenhouse gas mitigation.

Industrial companies are using methanotrophs to convert methane gas emissions into useful products, for example liquid fuels and protein feeds.

"The findings of this research explain why methanotrophs are abundant in soil ecosystems," said Dr Chris Greening from the Center for Geometric Biology at Monash University.

"Methane is a challenging energy source to assimilate.

"By being able to use hydrogen as well, methanotrophs can grow better in a range of conditions."
"This study is significant because it shows that key consumers of methane emissions are also able to grow on inorganic compounds such as hydrogen," Dr Greening said.

"This new knowledge helps us to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."

Read more at Methane Emissions Tackled with Gas-Guzzling Bacteria

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