In 10 seconds? Scientists have identified and cultured a ‘miracle microbe’ that can ‘eat’ and convert oil into gas which could have significant industrial implications, for example for depleted oil reservoirs or cleaning up oil spills.

What did they discover? In the current study, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and the MARUM -- Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen identified an exceptional type of hybrid archaeon (a micro-organism) named Candidatus Methanoliparum that can break down oil into methane and carbon dioxide on its own. This is a first because up to now scientists believed the process needed the help of other microbes. The present study overrides the earlier theory and provides experimental evidence that archaeon can do the job alone.

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