Microbes making methane

Microbes in many extreme environments have found their own ways to survive. Some that live near hot deep-sea vents have developed a way to produce energy from water-rock chemical reactions, and exhale methane as a byproduct. Now, scientists have found similar methane-producing microbes that draw energy from rocks at Earth’s surface in a Sonoma County, California spring. The microbes may be able to convert carbon dioxide to methane, a finding that could have implications for carbon sequestration projects. The possibility of microbes converting sequestered carbon dioxide gas into methane is troubling, since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Astrobiologist William Brazelton, who was not involved in the study, is available to comment on the geological environment of the springs that makes such a comfortable home for these microbes, and on what the discovery means for the origin of life on Earth, and the possibility of life on Mars.
William Brazelton| 801-587-9455 | william.brazelton@utah.edu