Bacteria, please save our planet


There's been a lot of excitement recently over methane-chomping bacteria currently being studied in New Zealand. These methanotrophic bacteria act like catalytic converters on the methane they ingest from toxic environments; they can transform methane to carbon dioxide, which, as greenhouse gases go, is 20 times less powerful.

University of Calgary biology professor Peter Dunfield and colleagues discovered a methane-eating microorganism in the geothermal field known as Hell's Gate, near the city of Rotorua in New Zealand. It is the hardiest "methanotrophic" bacterium yet discovered, which makes it a likely candidate for use in reducing methane gas emissions from landfills, mines, industrial wastes, geothermal power plants and other sources.

The caretakers of the New Zealand research site are none other than our friends the Maori, who I'm sure could up their rates now that they can add microbiology to their healing lexicon.