Source of Oceanic Mystery Methane Was Under Noses of Researchers All Along
2012-09-10 0:00

From: Geekosystem.com

Researchers have been seeing methane produced from the worlds oceans for years, but like methane produced in a crowded elevator, the source was a minor mystery that annoyed many in the field. But researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign may have finally cracked the secret behind just who dealt the methane being released by the Earths oceans, and it appears the answer was looking right at them the whole time probably being conspicously quiet or pretending to check its email or something. The source seems to be one of the most common microbes in the ocean, Nitrosopumilus maritimus.

Science has understood that methane is being emitted by the worlds oceans for years, but have been confused by why thats the case. Methane can be produced by microbial organisms, but they usually do so in oxygen-free environments not oxygen-rich ones like the ocean.

Nitrosopumilus maritimus is among the most abundant microbes on the planet, so its a surprise that it could be keeping a secret as big as being responsible for as much as 4% of the Earths total methane production. Even so, that looks to be exactly the case.



Nitrosopumilus maritimus is an extremely common archaeon living in seawater.

The researchers responsible for the discovery werent concerned with methane when they started. Instead, they were looking for antibiotics they thought could be produced by the microbe. Nitrosopumilus produces a molecule called HEP, which has a role in synthesizing chemicals known as phosphonates used in medicine. That lead to the realization that the microbe was also producing a substance called methylphosphonic acid, which other researchers had proposed could be a methane source in the oceans. No one had found it in oceanic environs, though, until now.

It appears that when Nitrosopumilus shuffles off the single cell that passes for its mortal coil, it leaves behind methylphosphonic acid. That acid is broken down by other organisms that are hungry for the phosphorous that is part of it. When its broken down, one of the by-products is you guessed it methane. Lots and lots of methane that no creature in the ocean wants to eat, and is thus released into the atmosphere.

Its a weird chemistry lesson, researchers acknowledged, but one that solves a lasting mystery about climate change and how the Earths oceans may contribute to it.


Article from: geekosystem.com




Related Articles
Giant plumes of methane bubbling to surface of Arctic Ocean
Methane bubbles in Arctic seas - more questions, fewer answers (2010)
Has Methane Started Venting From Sea Floor? - Wayne Madsen, 2007


Latest News from our Front Page

Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher
2015-03-27 2:12
Sweden’s Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan “only 1%” Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes. Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didn’t ...
Hollywood agents: Difficult for white actors to find work now that shows required ‘to go ethnic’
2015-03-27 1:51
According to an article by Nellie Andreeva published yesterday at Deadline Hollywood, the television landscape has shifted so much this season that white actors are finding it increasingly difficult to find roles. In addition to new hit shows with mostly minority casts — Black-ish, Empire, Fresh Off the Boat, and How to Get Away with Murder — shows that were originally ...
Congratulations Pussy Porters!
2015-03-26 18:52
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school. On International Women’s day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which I’ve translated but prior to reading it I’d like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes. First and foremost “pussy porter” and “penis porter” are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately – prosecutor
2015-03-26 18:08
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn’t let the captain inside the cabin, with the “intension to destroy” the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference. Follow RT’s live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz. The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary
2015-03-25 19:38
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced. “Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because ...
More News