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Discovering methane eating mycobacterium
Wednesday 7th Dec 2022
Doors Open 18:30 | Event 19:00 - 21:30
House of Watt
James Wattstraat 73, 1097 DL Amsterdam

Image: Speleologist Serban M. Sarbu collects samples in the cave. Photo: Jean-François Flot/Sherban A. Sarbu

Join us as we host two researchers whose recent discovery of Mycobacterium (a type of immobile, rod-shaped bacteria) that live on eating methane. Hear on what we can learn from these microbes and how we can use what tackle the issues facing methane in our atmosphere today.

The methane-eating Mycobacterium dominates a toxic cave ecosystem

Dr. Chrats Melkonian

The fellowship of the cave, a team of multidisciplinary scientists, identified a unique methane-eating Mycobacterium in samples from a Romanian cave nicknamed 'Stinky Mountain'. In this talk we will take you through a journey that started in a toxic cave, moved behind the computer digits and was finalized in the laboratory. This benign microbe was named Mycobacterium methanotrophicum and is a relative with infamous pathogens responsible for diseases, such as tuberculosis. Instead of attacking us, it may contribute to mitigate methane emissions worldwide. As methane is an important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming we will conclude with the implication of this discovery to the future research in the global methane cycle. 

How to study microbes that can live from gas…and who save our planet

Dr. Paul L.E. Bodelier


Methane is one of the main gasses contributing to warming of our planet. Believe it or not but this gas is mostly produced by microbes but also degraded by microbes which basically live from gas. Especially methane degrading bacteria, of which Mycobacterium methanotrophicum is the most recent addition to this group of bacteria, are of huge importance in keeping our climate enjoyable. These bugs are highly specialized and quite difficult to study in the environment as well as in the lab. In this talk I will introduce you in the ways we investigate these bugs but also what their global relevance is.

Their talks are based on the recent publication (here)


Dr. Chrats Melkonian (@Ch_Melkonian)

Postdoctoral Researcher

Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics, Utrecht University

 Bioinformatics, Wageningen University & Research 

Dr. Paul L.E. Bodelier (@NIOOKNAW)
Senior Scientist

Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology

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