MicrobeWorld App


Microbes After Hours

Click for "Microbes After Hours" videos

Agar Art Contest 2016


Featured Image

Featured Video


Join MicrobeWorld


ASM House 200X200

Subscribe via Email


Warning: imagecreatefromstring(): Data is not in a recognized format in /var/www/plugins/content/jlembed/jlembed.php on line 253 Warning: imagesx(): supplied argument is not a valid Image resource in /var/www/plugins/content/jlembed/jlembed.php on line 254 Warning: imagedestroy(): supplied argument is not a valid Image resource in /var/www/plugins/content/jlembed/jlembed.php on line 255

New Gene Explains Why Bacteria Grow When Oxygen Is Low

Normally, the absence of oxygen means an absence of life. But in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, scientists noticed something curious happening in the water. Huge populations of methane-eating bacteria appeared out of nowhere, despite the fact that there had hardly been any of these bacteria present prior to the spill, and millions of gallons of toxic oil usually kill things, not bring them to life.

A few years later, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) think they may have found an explanation for this phenomenon. Researchers have discovered a gene that enables bacteria to survive in extreme, oxygen-depleted environments, lying dormant until food — such as methane from an oil spill, and the oxygen needed to metabolize it — becomes available. The scientists are now taking a closer look at gene codes for a protein named HpnR that is responsible for producing bacterial lipids known as 3-methylhopanoids. It’s this gene scientists say could trigger nutrient-starved microbes to make a sudden appearance when the eating gets good.

Comments (0)

Collections (0)


American Society for Microbiology
2012 1752 N Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20036-2904 • (202) 737-3600
American Society For Microbiology © 2014   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use