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New Type of Bacteria Feeds Only on Air

New Type of Bacteria Feeds Only on Air

Friday, 12 April, 2019 - 06:30
A researcher looking at E.coli bacteria strain at the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment in Latvia. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

For the first time ever, a study describing the bacteria Methylocapsa Gorgana was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It's a bacterium that only needs air in the lab and a more precise examination.

The bacteria could benefit from methane to supply its energy needs, while methane is known to be harmful to the climate.

The researchers explained that this bacteria also use nitrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen, the German news agency reported.

The research team led by Alexander Tveit from the University of Tromsø, Norway, said: "For the first time, we managed to isolate bacteria that oxidize methane, and can feed on air only."

Although methane concentrations are low in the atmosphere, it seriously harms the air.

According to the university statement, scientists consider methane responsible for 15% of the rise in global warming. Methane is made up of a number of decomposition processes in soil and oxygen-poor residues, as well as some industrial processes.

"The bacterium, Methylocapsa gorgona, has surprised us all very much, it is extremely versatile and cannot only gain energy and carbon for biomass production from the methane in the air but also fix nitrogen in the air, "explains Michael Wagner, director of the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science at the University of Vienna.

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