Monday, January 4, 2016

04/01/2016: Methane-guzzling bacteria could feed fish, pets, even people

The small tank of pink liquid bubbling away on a lab counter looks a little like a vat of Pepto-Bismol, CBC News reports.

Even if you didn't know if was full of Methylococcus capsulatus, a type of bacteria, you probably wouldn't be tempted to make a meal of the frothy soup. But it could make a tasty treat for a salmon.

"These are the organisms themselves — single cells — growing in very high density, so there's lots and lots of cells in that tank," says Lori Giver, vice-president of biological engineering at Calysta, a biotechnology company based in Menlo Park near San Francisco.

Normally, she says, you'd find these microbes in the wild munching on methane from decomposing vegetation.
Just add Methylococcus capsulatus (Image: Sean)

In this lab researchers pipe methane into the tank to feed the bacteria. Then they kill them with heat and dry them, creating a fine pink powder.

The company shapes the powder into pellets, and there you have it: fish food.

"The problem with aquaculture" says Alan Shaw, Calysta's president and CEO, "is you have to feed fish other fish before we can eat them. That's not sustainable … we're basically tapping this planet dry."

Read the full article HERE.

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