Cyanobacteria helps scientists edge closer to Super Carbon Eating Bacteria
Carbon is a necessary component of life, but excess carbon is a real villain when it comes to climate change. Dealing with excess carbon is one of the challenges facing today’s scientists. However, a solution may come from simple one-celled organisms called cyanobacteria flourishing in the world’s oceans.
In nature, the carbon cycle process continuously moves carbon from the atmosphere through Earth’s ecosystems and then back into the atmosphere. These ecosystems include oceans where cyanobacteria manage to reuse and recycle a whopping forty percent of the carbon in the carbon cycle. The cyanobacteria use carbon to make the energy the organisms need to live.
The obvious efficiency of this process has spurred Professor Pamela Silver and colleagues at Harvard Medical School (HMS) to discover the specific mechanisms the cyanobacteria use. The mechanisms are evenly spaced internal structures called carboxysomes. The structure spacing is critical and is controlled by a single protein called parA. This protein is also found in many other types of bacteria.
The HMS research may help biologists develop ‘designer’ bacteria that could gobble up excess carbon in Earth’s atmosphere. This would help everyone breathe a little easier.