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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


Methane-Eating Bacterium

Item #d99apr47

The Mar. 20, 1999, issue of New Scientist, Oliver Klaffke reports that American, German, and Russian researchers have discovered a bacterium in acidic wetlands that digests methane. Because almost half the world’s methane emissions come from wetlands in the Northern Hemisphere and because most of the bacteria that produce methane live in acidic wetlands in the northern hemisphere, this new bacterium’s role in controlling those emissions is considered important. It was discovered when the researchers sought to find out why some wetlands in Europe were producing only half as much methane as others. These environments were previously thought to be unsuitable for methanodigesting bacteria. This bacterium, though, thrives in acidic conditions. However, its effects have been diminishing since the beginning of the industrial revolution because it is very sensitive to nitrate and sulphate pollution.

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