Increased greenhouse gases leading to climate change are recognized as the main driver of record-breaking global heatwaves, which threaten human health and well-being. Microorganisms are important producers and consumers of major greenhouse gases, including methane (CH4). Methane is ∼80 times as potent as carbon dioxide (CO2), on a mass basis, at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 20-year period, significantly contributing to a warming planet. As the most abundant organisms on Earth, microbes can make enormous contributions to the planet’s climate by mitigating methane emissions.
This report is based on the deliberations of experts who participated in a colloquium on May 31 and June 1, 2023, organized by the American Academy of Microbiology, the honorific leadership group and think tank within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). These experts came from diverse disciplines and sectors to articulate opportunities to use microbes to mitigate methane emissions from 4 main sources: enteric fermentation in ruminants, animal wastes, rice paddies and landfills. The participants highlighted knowledge gaps and potential strategies that harness microbial processes to mediate global warming and address climate change. The report states the recommendations of the colloquium participants for the scientific community as the next step to further our understanding of these topics.
The Role of Microbes in Mediating Methane Emissions: Report on an American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium held on May 31 and June 1, 2023. Washington (D.C.): American Society for Microbiology; 2023.
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