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Microbe steals neighbour's electricity to make methane

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From cow burps to tree hiccups and melting permafrost, the potent greenhouse gas methane is produced in myriad ways. Now we can add another one to the list: electricity-generating microbes. The finding could one day allow us to control the generation of methane.

Methanosaeta microbes are one of the biggest natural producers of methane. They live in waste water and wetlands and were thought to break down acetate supplied by other nearby microbes, releasing methane and carbon dioxide in the process.

One of the neighbours of these Methanosaeta microbes, Geobacter bacteria, have a talent of their own. These bacteria shuttle electrons between one another using threadlike projections called pili.
 
 

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