Volcanic microbe eats CO2 ‘astonishingly quickly’, say scientists

(The Guardian, 19 Apr 2023) Discovery of carbon-capturing organism in hot springs could lead to efficient way of absorbing climate-heating gas.

A microbe discovered in a volcanic hot spring gobbles up carbon dioxide “astonishingly quickly”, according to the scientists who found it.

The researchers hope to utilise microbes that have naturally evolved to absorb CO2 as an efficient way of removing the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Ending the burning of fossil fuels is critical in ending the climate crisis, but most scientists agree CO2 will also need to be sucked from the air to limit future damage.

The new microbe, a cyanobacterium, was discovered in September in volcanic seeps near the Italian island of Vulcano, where the water contains high levels of CO2. The researchers said the bug turned CO2 into biomass faster than any other known cyanobacteria.

In February the team also explored hot springs in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, US, where levels of CO2 are even higher. Those results are now being analysed. The researchers said all their data on microbes would be published and made available to other scientists as a database that pairs DNA sequences with banked samples of the bacteria.

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The Guardian, 19 Apr 2023: Volcanic microbe eats CO2 ‘astonishingly quickly’, say scientists