Atmospheric methane oxidizing bacteria

Atmospheric methane oxidizing bacteria (atmMOB) are the only organisms on Earth that can consume the greenhouse gas methane directly from the atmosphere. This process removes up to 47 million tons of methane from the atmosphere every year, but despite this, atmospheric methane concentrations increase rapidly. How atmMOB will react to these increases are unknown.

In 2019, we provided the first detailed description of an atmMOB, Methylocapsa gorgona MG08. M. gorgona MG08 is the only confirmed atmMOB in pure culture. LoAir will refine the groundbreaking cultivation techniques that allowed isolation of M. gorgona MG08 to enable fully controlled physiological experiments. We will use M. gorgona MG08 as a model organism to study energy, carbon and nitrogen harvest during growth on atmospheric methane. We will also use our cultivation platform to identify which other types of methane oxidizing bacteria can grow on atmospheric methane. Finally, we will create atmospheric compositions predicted for the future to study how increased methane concentrations affect the physiology and methane capture efficiency of atmMOB. This way, LoAir will provide fundamental knowledge about atmMOB. In the extension of LoAir, this knowledge may be used to understand the function of atmospheric methane oxidizing bacteria in the environment and predict their role in scenarios for a warmer future.




Tveit & Schmider et al., 2021. Simultaneous Oxidation of Atmospheric Methane, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen for Bacterial Growth. Microorganisms

PNAS Science Sessions Podcast with Mette M. Svenning and Alexander T. Tveit: Soil bacterium that lives on air

Tveit et al., 2019. Widespread soil bacterium that oxidizes atmospheric methane. PNAS


Further reading:

Knief & Dunfield, 2005. Response and adaptation of different methanotrophic bacteria to low methane mixing ratios. Environmental microbiology 




Oliver Schmidt (postdoc)
Tilman JS. Schmider (PhD candidate)



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 last update: 27.08.2021


Methylocapsa gorgona - the first isolate of an atmospheric methane oxidizer 


Anne Grethe and Mette @work



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