A microorganism that eats iron and methane and, therefore, could be important for control of greenhouse gas emissions Worldwide it has been newly discovered by a group of researchers from the University of Radboud, the Netherlands, and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany.
The finding has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A very promising arch
Of the order of Methanosarcinales, this arch uses iron to convert methane into carbon dioxide. During that process, less iron is available for other bacteria, so the microorganism initiates an energy cascade that influences the iron and methane cycle and methane emissions.
This arch can also convert nitrate to ammonium, as explained Boran Kartal, microbiologist who recently moved from the University of Radboud to the Max Planck Institute in Bremen:Advertising
A bioreactor containing anaerobic methane and oxidizing ammonium microorganisms can be used to simultaneously convert ammonium, methane and oxidized nitrogen in wastewater into nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, which have a much lower global warming potential.
Although there have been numerous indications of the existence of these iron-dependent methane oxidants, until now researchers had not been able to isolate them.