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Facultative Methanotrophy at Natural Gas Seeps

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One of the most exciting recent developments in the study of biological methane oxidation was the discovery of facultative methanotrophs of the genus Methylocella. Our lab discovered that that the facultative methanotroph Methylocella silvestris can grow on methane as well as other components of natural gas (ethane and propane), thus overturning the dogma that degradation of these gases was carried out by different groups of microbes (Crombie & Murrell 2014). The unique metabolic capability of Methylocella have profound implications for the biological consumption of natural gas in the environment.

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