Researchers discover Methane-metabolizing microorganism in Surat Basin

In a new finding, researchers have discovered two methane-metabolising microorganism while exploring the  water 600 metres below the Earth’s surface in the Surat Basin. These methane producing microorganisms might be contributing to greenhouse gas production which is unknown yet. According to researchers, there’s much more in the global warming chain than they know. Also, chances are there that we are trying to control the global warming above the water while actual thing lies underwater which we have skipped till date.

While exploring the water 600 metres below the Earth’s surface in the Surat Basin, researchers have discovered two new methane-metabolising organisms. What’s concerning the scientists is that their role in either in greenhouse gas emission, consumption and global warming is unknown yet. Researchers believe that there’s something more in the global warming chain which we have skipped till date and these microorganisms living under the water might be contributing significantly in greenhouse emission.

Gene Tyson, associate professor at University of Queensland said that researchers collected water samples from a deep coal seam aquifer 600 metres below the earth’s surface in the Surat Basin, near Roma, Queensland and found some microorganisms. Researchers reconstructed the genomes and found that the microorganisms were capable of producing methane gas. Tyson further added that these methane-producing microorganisms fall under the category of microorganisms called Bathyarchaeota.

To discover the methane-metabolising microorganism researchers sequenced the DNA and then assembled these sequences into genomes on a large scale. Assembling of genome was done with the help of advanced computational tools, some tools were already available while some complex tools were developed at the Australian Centre of Economics in last two years.

The discovery shocked the scientists suggesting the diverse nature of Earth and there might be many other such microorganisms living out there which are still unknown to us and they might be contributing to carbon dioxide production and global warming.

While drawing an analogy, Tyson said that the discovery is like knowing about black and brown bears, and then coming across a giant panda. Although, these newly discovered microorgasnims do share some basic characteristics with other organisms but fundamentally they are very different.

Methane (CH4) is a molecule consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. the relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an attractive fuel, though capturing and storing it poses challenges due to its gaseous state found at standard conditions for temperature and pressure. However, methane when reacts with atmospheric oxygen, produces the greenhouse carbon dioxide and water. Thus, methane is indirectly deteriorating the already worse situation and adding to global warming.

There might be many more such methane-producing organisms and research on large scale is required to identify them all.

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