Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C

Recent research published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” has unveiled a fascinating discovery: Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C, a type of methanotroph, possesses unique characteristics that make it a potential game-changer in addressing methane emissions. This bacterium’s exceptional ability to consume methane, a potent greenhouse gas, even at low concentrations could hold the key to mitigating its harmful effects.

This topic of “Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Unveiling the Characteristics

Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C falls into the category of methanotrophs, bacteria that consume methane as their primary energy source. This specific strain exhibits remarkable traits:

  • Optimal Growth Conditions: It thrives in environments with methane concentrations between 5,000-10,000 parts per million (ppm).
  • Exceptional Low-Level Methane Consumption: A standout feature is its capability to consume methane even at concentrations as low as 500 ppm.
  • Proven Versatility: Laboratory tests have demonstrated its growth even at 200 ppm methane concentration.
  • Effective Range: It remains effective within the methane concentration range of 200-1,000 ppm.

Harnessing its Potential

Researchers are exploring two main avenues to harness the potential of Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C for methane mitigation:

  • Biofilters: These vessels house the necessary nutrients for microbial growth, allowing the bacterium to consume methane from the surrounding environment.
  • Genetic Modifications: Researchers are inducing gene mutations and selecting desired strains to enhance the bacterium’s methane-consumption efficiency.

Functionality and Applications

Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C plays a critical role in removing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. Its application sites span diverse areas:

  • Landfills: The bacterium could be used to mitigate methane emissions from waste disposal sites.
  • Paddy Fields: It holds potential for reducing methane emissions from rice paddies.
  • Oil and Gas Wells: These wells are notorious sources of methane emissions, making the bacterium a valuable tool for mitigation.

Advantages and Biomass Production

This bacterium’s advantages extend beyond its exceptional methane consumption:

  • Effective at Low Levels: It remains effective even at low methane concentrations, which is crucial for widespread application.
  • Biomass Production: After consuming methane, the bacterium produces biomass that could have various applications.
  • Aquaculture Feed: The biomass could serve as aquaculture feed, contributing to food production.
  • Conversion Value: Remarkably, 1 tonne of methane can be converted to approximately 0.78 tonne of biomass (dry weight), valued at roughly $1,600 per tonne.

Significance for Climate Change

The significance of Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C becomes apparent when considering methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas:

  • Methane Potency: Over a 20-year period, methane’s warming potential is approximately 85 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Global Warming Contribution: Methane contributes to around 30% of the total global warming effect.
  • Large-Scale Benefits: By 2050, the bacterium’s use could prevent the emission of 240 million tonnes of methane, leading to a reduction in global temperatures by 0.21-0.22 degrees Celsius if 0.3-1 petagrams of methane are removed.

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