Scientists Have Cultivated a “Miracle Microbe” That Converts Oil Into Methane

Detectable from the oil tank to the deep sea

The Meth­an­ol­i­paria cells cul­tured for the present study ori­gin­ate from one of Chin­a’s largest oil fields, the Shengli oil field. However, ge­netic ana­lyses show that these mi­crobes are dis­trib­uted all over the world, even down to the deep sea. “Our res­ults hold an en­tirely new un­der­stand­ing of oil ex­ploit­a­tion in sub­sur­face oil reser­voirs. Both the wide dis­tri­bu­tion of these or­gan­isms and the po­ten­tial in­dus­trial ap­plic­a­tions make this an ex­cit­ing field of re­search in the com­ing years,” We­gener con­cludes.

Reference: “Non-syntrophic methanogenic hydrocarbon degradation by an archaeal species” by Zhuo Zhou, Cui-jing Zhang, Peng-fei Liu, Lin Fu, Rafael Laso-Pérez, Lu Yang, Li-ping Bai, Jiang Li, Min Yang, Jun-zhang Lin, Wei-dong Wang, Gunter Wegener, Meng Li and Lei Cheng, 22 December 2021, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04235-2