Microorganisms participate globally in biogeochemical cycling of major nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen, including the production and removal of gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. These gases also all contribute to climate change.
Methane is produced by methanogens during the anaerobic breakdown of organic matter in diverse environments such as wetlands, rice paddies, waste water treatment plants, landfills and the human gut. While some methane will escape to the atmosphere, some bacteria have evolved to use the methane as a carbon source.
Because methane is a potent greenhouse gas, we are interested in lowering the amount of methane released from landfill sites in Sweden. We use traditional microbiology and molecular genetic methods such as PCR and DNA sequencing to investigate how anaerobic bacteria can participate in landfill methane cycling.
Microbes can save the planet… and we can help them.