Methane-eating micro-organism could assist fight against climate change

German scientists have discovered a micro-organism at the bottom of the Black Sea that is believed to be the world’s oldest life form, and which breaks down methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Researchers from the Max Planck Society in Germany found corals made from the micro-organisms processing methane and sulphates in the largest oxygen-free area on the planet, reports The Guardian. The organisms are thought to have originated four billion years ago, half a billion years before carbon dioxide absorbing plants are traditionally thought to have begun life.

The German scientists believe the organisms could assist in removing excess methane from the atmosphere.

The research is published in this week’s issue of Science magazine. According to the Science article, carbon atoms in the methane molecules are incorporated into carbonates, bulk biomass and lipids. The organism has provided the scientists with an understanding of carbon cycling during earlier periods of Earth’s history.

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