Microorganisms to clean up environmental methane

Methane has a global warming impact 25 times higher than that of carbon dioxide and is the world's second most emitted greenhouse gas. An EU-funded project is developing new strains of microorganisms that can transform methane into useful and bio-friendly materials.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


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Published: 15 July 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnvironmentAtmosphere  |  Climate & global change
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Industrial research
Innovation
Pure sciencesChemistry
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Spain
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Microorganisms to clean up environmental methane

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© vchalup #188138761, source: stock.adobe.com 2019

Methanotrophs are microorganisms that metabolise methane. They are a subject of great interest in the environmental sector, where the emission of harmful greenhouse gases is a major concern.

The EU-funded CH4BIOVAL project is working to develop new methanotroph strains that can more readily transform methane from the atmosphere into valuable user products. The CH4BIOVAL team is particularly interested in the potential of methanotrophs to produce large amounts of bio-polymers known as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).

PHAs include a wide range of materials with different physical properties. Some of them are biodegradable and can be used in the production of bioplastics. The mechanical properties and biocompatibility of PHAs can be changed by modifying their surfaces or by combining them with other polymers, enzymes and inorganic materials. This makes possible an even wider range of applications.

CH4BIOVAL researchers are also interested in another methanotroph by-product called ectoine. This is a natural compound produced by several species of bacteria. It is what’s known as a compatible solute, which can be useful as a protective substance. For example, ectoine is used as an active ingredient in skincare and sun protection products, stabilising proteins and other cellular structures and protecting the skin from dryness and UV radiation.

The CH4BIOVAL project is undertaking the isolation of useful methanotroph strains through conventional genetic selective techniques as well as state-of-the-art bioinformatic techniques. The latter involve the detailed analysis and modification of complex biological features based on an in-depth understanding of the genetic codes of selected strains.

By closely studying the metabolic characteristics of specific methanotroph strains, CH4BIOVAL scientists are identifying key genetic modifications that can improve their performance. Thus, the project is enabling both the abatement of an important greenhouse gas and the production of useful bio-consumables.

The project received funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions programme.

Project details

  • Project acronym: CH4BIOVAL
  • Participants: Spain (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 750126
  • Total costs: € 170 121
  • EU contribution: € 170 121
  • Duration: September 2017 to September 2019

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