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Illinois IGB


Art of Science Gallery 07

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.