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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society


Marching On
Marching On
Olympus BX60 Microscope/Olympus DP72 Camera
Thomas Mand and Mary Beth Metcalf
Bill Metcalf Laboratory
Funded by the DOE

Methanosarcina is a genus of bacteria named for the shapes produced by clusters of individual cells, such as those seen in this image. These clusters resemble sarcina, the traveling packs carried by Roman soldiers; they can also resemble billowing clouds, a reminder of the contribution of these bacteria to climate change. Microbes such as these produce approximately 2 billion tons of methane each year as they decompose organic waste. Knowledge of their natural history can help us improve biofuel production while also mitigating the human contribution to climate change.