Cable bacteria around rice roots transport electrons and help prevent formation of methane!
Microbe of the episode
Microbe of the episode: Vibrio alginolyticus
Transforming other things into methane is a great way to make a living for some kinds of microbes. These tend to live under still water, like in rice fields or wetlands, or in the guts of cattle. And while this methane could be useful as natural gas if collected, it's a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere.
In this study, cable bacteria were inoculated into rice pots in the lab. Cable bacteria transfer electrons from deeper down in the ground up to the surface to generate energy, and in the process generate sulfate. This sulfate allows other microbes to outcompete the methane producers, reducing the amount of methane produced from rice cultivation in the lab. This may be helpful to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice agriculture.
Scholz VV, Meckenstock RU, Nielsen LP, Risgaard-Petersen N. 2020. Cable bacteria reduce methane emissions from rice-vegetated soils. 1. Nat Commun 11:1878.
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