Oil Spill Methanotroph

Methane-eating bacteria (also called methanotrophs) helped clean up the Gulf oil spill, such as Methylococcus capsulatus shown here.
Anne Fjellbirkeland

More than oil gushed from a deep-sea well during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: methane spewed alongside it, and lots of it. But where did it go? Most of it dissolved into the seawater, forming long gaseous plumes in the deep-sea extending from the well like fingers. It was then eaten by methane-eating bacteria, also known as methanotrophs. The species of methanotroph shown here (Methylococcus capsulatus) was one of many that helped clean up the spill. Find out more about methane, these microbes and the food web after the spill.