Jeffrey Marlow says we should be thinking more about microbes — those teensy, tiny organisms that inhabit just about every part of the biosphere, but are only visible under the lens of a microscope. “Microbes really matter in the environment,” Marlow, an assistant professor of biology at Boston University, told Mongabay in an interview. “They’re often out of sight, out of mind — but they are the first line of defense often in terms of climate change.” Marlow is the lead author of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looks at microbes that live in carbonate rock mounds and their interactions with methane, the chemical compound that naturally seeps out of the seafloor. By collecting samples at seven different seafloor seeps around North America, Marlow and his colleagues figured out that rock-inhabiting microbes were actually consuming methane inside the rocks. “That was surprising to me because we’ve often viewed these rocks as old repositories of ancient life, or past geochemical signals of what had happened in many years past, but the fact that they host these active microbes is pretty remarkable to me,” Marlow said. What’s more, these microbes appeared to consume methane 50 times faster than microbes in sediment, the study found. “We often see that some sediment microbes from methane-rich mud volcanoes, for example, may be five to ten times faster at eating methane, but 50 times faster is a whole new thing,” co-author Peter Girguis, a biologist and professor…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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