Episode Summary

Measuring how quickly marine methane-consuming microbes become active when new methane enters an area!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Torque teno midi virus 6

Jesse's takeaways

Oceans and the organisms living in them have a large effect on the planet, in terms of climate and gases they absorb from or release into the atmosphere. They are a source of much of a potent greenhouse gas, methane, but microbes living in ocean sediments also consume large amounts of methane. These anaerobic methanotrophic archaea generate energy for themselves by transforming methane and sulfate into carbonate and sulfide.

In this study, however, methane-consuming microbes were only found active at sites of methane seepage. Even in sites where methane had previously been present, only few of these microbes were present and active. After enriching samples of these sediments for up to 8 months, still the only activity that was seen was from actively methane-consuming communities. So once dispersed, such communities seem slow to regenerate as the locations of methane seepage shift.

Journal Paper

Klasek S, Torres ME, Bartlett DH, Tyler M, Hong W-L, Colwell F. 2020. Microbial communities from Arctic marine sediments respond slowly to methane addition during ex situ enrichments. Environ Microbiol 22:1829–1846.

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