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A Newly Discovered Microbe Could Accelerate Global Warming

Teaming beneath Sweden's thawing permafrost is a previously undiscovered microbe known as methanongen (Candidatus Methanoflorens Stordalenmirensis). As its name suggests, the microbe does one thing really well: release methane into the atmosphere, presenting a feedback loop of gas production that scientists believe will impact the future of global warming.

After extracting DNA from soil samples, the team of researchers used metagenomic sequencing (the study of genetic material in environmental samples) to reconstruct a near-complete genome. There they found the genes required for hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, or the ability to produce methane, which is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States, and more efficient at trapping radiation than carbon dioxide. It's also worth noting that methane is also released in quantities by wetlands, livestock, and human-created gas leaks.

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