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Bacteria found in Twente Canal make their own oxygen to break down methane

Bacteria that absorb methane as a food, without needing any oxygen in the process, caused a stir in 2006. Microbiologists from Nijmegen found the bacteria in the mud at the bottom of the Twente Canal in the east of the Netherlands. It has now become clear that these bacteria make oxygen all by themselves, in the absence of light. This is a remarkable finding as it was traditionally believed that only plants and algae could produce oxygen. The finding might even be a clue to a mechanism operating before any green plants existed on Earth. Nature published the news on 25 March 2010.

Microscopic image of Methylomirabilis oxyfera, the Twente Canal bacteria.

More information (in Dutch).