How to Reduce Greenhouse Gas? Tips From Methane-Eating Microbes

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Methane-consuming germs are discovered in severe environments such as active geothermal warm springs.

Advanced X-ray strategies yield insights into a bacterial enzyme that turns methane gas into liquid fuel.

Scientists have actually figured out the structure of a unique enzyme, produced by a types of methane-eating germs, that transforms the greenhouse gas into methanol – an extremely flexible liquid fuel and commercial item component.

Their brand-new research study, released in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is the very first to report the structure of the enzyme, called soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO), at space temperature level in both its lowered and oxidized kinds. This comprehensive structural details will assist scientists style effective drivers for commercial methane to methanol conversion procedures.

“We were able to reveal the structure of sMMO and see how the environment of the two iron atoms in the enzyme’s active site changes and supports the catalysis of this challenging chemical reaction,” stated author Jan Kern, a Berkeley Lab bioscientist. The procedure “involves breaking a carbon-hydrogen bond and insertion of an oxygen – converting a hydrocarbon into an alcohol. Additionally, our results showed the value of using an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) in situations where traditional crystallography is not possible, in this case due to the reactive metals within the center of the enzyme.”

Studying such enzymes by conventional X-ray techniques usually offers inaccurate outcomes due to the fact that of radiation damage. By utilizing XFEL, the scientists had the ability to get precise structural details in the 2 oxidation states.

Bacteria that metabolize methane (methanotrophs) are discovered in soil and marine environments with little to no oxygen. In these anaerobic environments, the germs play an important function as carbon recyclers; they transform methane (CH4) into better particles that they and other organisms depend upon.

Reference: “High-Resolution XFEL Structure of the Soluble Methane Monooxygenase Hydroxylase Complex with its Regulatory Component at Ambient Temperature in Two Oxidation States” by Vivek Srinivas, Rahul Banerjee, Hugo Lebrette, Jason C. Jones, Oskar Aurelius, In-Sik Kim, Cindy C. Pham, Sheraz Gul, Kyle D. Sutherlin, Asmit Bhowmick, Juliane John, Esra Bozkurt, Thomas Fransson, Pierre Aller, Agata Butryn, Isabel Bogacz, Philipp Simon, Stephen Keable, Alexander Britz, Kensuke Tono, Kyung Sook Kim, Sang-Youn Park, Sang Jae Lee, Jaehyun Park, Roberto Alonso-Mori, Franklin D. Fuller, Alexander Batyuk, Aaron S. Brewster, Uwe Bergmann, Nicholas K. Sauter, Allen M. Orville, Vittal K. Yachandra, Junko Yano, John D. Lipscomb, Jan Kern and Martin Högbom, 20 July 2020, Journal of the American Chemical Society.
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c05613

This research study was a cooperation in between researchers at Berkeley Lab, University of Minnesota, Stockholm University, SLAC, and the Diamond Light Source.

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