Posted on November 4, 2016
A microbe that ‘eats’ both methane and iron: microbiologists have long suspected its existence, but were not able to find it – until now. Researchers at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen discovered a microorganism that couples the reduction of iron to methane oxidation, and could thus be relevant in controlling greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Their reults are now published in PNAS.
The balance between methane-producing and -consuming processes has a major effect on the worldwide emission of this strong greenhouse gas into our atmosphere. The team of microbiologists and biogeochemists now discovered an archaeon – the other branch of ancient prokaryotes besides bacteria – of the order Methanosarcinales that uses iron to convert methane into carbon dioxide.
During that process, reduced iron become available to other bacteria. Consequently, the microorganism initiates an energy cascade influencing the iron and methane cycle and thus methane emissions, describe first authors Katharina Ettwig (Radboud University) and Baoli Zhu (Hemholtz Zentrum München) in the paper.” Interested? Click here to read more
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