Soil microbe that eats methane (journal)

Widespread soil bacterium that oxidizes atmospheric methane

The global atmospheric level of methane (CH4), the second most important greenhouse gas, is currently increasing by ∼10 million tons per year. Microbial oxidation in unsaturated soils is the only known biological process that removes CH4 from the atmosphere, but so far, bacteria that can grow on atmospheric CH4 have eluded all cultivation efforts. This study isolated a pure culture of a bacterium, strain MG08 that grows on air at atmospheric concentrations of CH4. This organism, named Methylocapsa gorgona, is globally distributed in soils and closely related to uncultured members of the upland soil cluster α. CH4 oxidation experiments and 13C-single cell isotope analyses demonstrated that it oxidizes atmospheric CH4 aerobically and assimilates carbon from both CH4 and CO2.