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SAR11, oceans' most abundant organism, has ability to create methane

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posted on Jul, 8 2014 @ 06:41 PM
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SAR11, oceans' most abundant organism, has ability to create methane


The oxygen-rich surface waters of the world's major oceans are supersaturated with methane -- a powerful greenhouse gas that is roughly 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide -- yet little is known about the source of this methane.

Now a new study by researchers at Oregon State University demonstrates the ability of some strains of the oceans' most abundant organism -- SAR11 -- to generate methane as a byproduct of breaking down a compound for its phosphorus.

Results of the study are being published this week in Nature Communications. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

"Anaerobic methane biogenesis was the only process known to produce methane in the oceans and that requires environments with very low levels of oxygen," said Angelicque "Angel" White, a researcher in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author on the study. "In the vast central gyres of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the surface waters have lots of oxygen from mixing with the atmosphere -- and yet they also have lots of methane, hence the term 'marine methane paradox.'

"We've now learned that certain strains of SAR11, when starved for phosphorus, turn to a compound known as methylphosphonic acid," White added. "The organisms produce enzymes that can break this compound apart, freeing up phosphorus that can be used for growth -- and leaving methane behind."

The discovery is an important piece of the puzzle in understanding Earth's methane cycle, scientists say. It builds on a series of studies conducted by researchers from several institutions around the world over the past several years.


Now if you're like me, you will be asking "what the heck is SAR11?"

SAR11 is the smallest free-living cell known and also has the smallest genome, or genetic structure, of any independent cell. Yet it dominates life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth.

These bacteria are so dominant that their combined weight exceeds that of all the fish in the world's oceans, scientists say. In a marine environment that's low in nutrients and other resources, they are able to survive and replicate in extraordinary numbers -- a milliliter of seawater, for instance, might contain 500,000 of these cells.

Scientists don't know exactly how much they contribute but now that they know this, it gives new importance to the study of these organisms.




posted on Jul, 8 2014 @ 06:50 PM
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So that's how the world end's...not with a Bang, but with lot's of tiny farts.



posted on Jul, 8 2014 @ 08:35 PM
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Single drop of seawater.

Well, actually that's misleading because it was collected via a dip-net at night time. So, it's a concentration. But still, an amazing photo and that little crab in the bottom corner goes in and out your mouth as you play in the waves and spit water at a mate. Eeeww. But there is a lot of ocean. Oceans worth. So imagine the incredible amount of little babby sea-life all happily farting. Obviously there is only one solution here, we need to tax these buggers.



posted on Jul, 8 2014 @ 10:19 PM
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A mass of life exceeding all the mass that all the fish in the oceans have, farting out methane which is 20% worse the CO2 as a greenhouse gas......

Carbon credits are the biggest fraud perpetrated on the world. Human emissions pale in comparison.



posted on Jul, 8 2014 @ 11:37 PM
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originally posted by: TinfoilTP
A mass of life exceeding all the mass that all the fish in the oceans have, farting out methane which is 20% worse the CO2 as a greenhouse gas......

Carbon credits are the biggest fraud perpetrated on the world. Human emissions pale in comparison.


how long before they tie it to human behavior?



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