Research highlight

Methane-eating moss

Nature Geoscience

August 23, 2010

Methane-consuming bacteria form associations with mosses growing in peat bogs around the globe, potentially reducing methane emissions from the bogs, suggests a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. Peat bogs release large quantities of methane ― a potent greenhouse gas ― into the atmosphere, a contribution that is expected to increase in a warmer world.

Huub Op den Camp and colleagues measured methane consumption in mosses collected from peat bogs around the globe. They found that all mosses consumed methane, owing to a symbiotic association with methane-eating bacteria living within them. They also noted that the capacity of the mosses to soak up methane increased with temperature.

The researchers therefore suggest that the symbiosis could counteract projected increases in the release of methane from peat bogs under global warming.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo939

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