Greenhouse gas paradox - - Chromatography Online
Greenhouse gas paradox

The Column

Global warming is a contentious issue, with different groups voicing opposing opinions on if, how and at what rate the warming is occurring. The general consensus is that with increased industrialization, greenhouse gas emissions have also increased, resulting in the formation of a so-called ‘greenhouse effect’. The origin of greenhouse gases is therefore of great interest to the scientific community.

Large sections of the worlds oxygenated ocean waters are supersaturated with methane, even though the only ‘significant’ biological source of methane are a group of marine microbes that inhabit deoxygenated waters. This unidentified source of methane constitutes up to 4% of the global methane budget1.

A group of scientists in the USA1 has published data suggesting a new source of ocean methane from an unsuspecting source, the marine archaeon Nitrosopumilus maritimus. It has been previously suggested in response to phosphate starvation that ocean microbes breakdown methylphosphonic acid resulting in the release of methane as a by-product. Until now, the source of methylphosphonic acid has remained undetected and its biosynthesis considered a physical impossibility when considering known and defined biochemical pathways within marine ecosystems.

Using a combination of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) the group demonstrated that the marine archaeon Nitrosopumilus maritimus encodes a metabolomic pathway for methylphosphonate biosynthesis and it produces methylphosphonate esters that are contained within the cell of the microbe. This approach identified a source of methylphosphonic acid precursor. Furthermore, metagenomic data indicated that methylphosphonate biosynthesis is relatively common in marine microbes, providing a plausible explanation for the methane paradox.

1. William W. Metcalf et al, Science, 1104–1107, DOI:10.1126/science.1219875, (2012)

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.

ADVERTISEMENT

blog comments powered by Disqus
LCGC E-mail Newsletters
Global E-newsletters subscribe here:




 

LCGC COLUMNISTS 2014

Column Watch: Ron Majors, established authority on new column technologies, keeps readers up-to-date with new sample preparation trends in all branches of chromatography and reviews developments. LATEST: When Bad Things Happen to Good Food: Applications of HPLC to Detect Food Adulteration


Perspectives in Modern HPLC: Michael W. Dong is a senior scientist in Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genentech in South San Francisco, California. He is responsible for new technologies, automation, and supporting late-stage research projects in small molecule analytical chemistry and QC of small molecule pharmaceutical sciences. LATEST: HPLC for Characterization and Quality Control of Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies


MS — The Practical Art: Kate Yu brings her expertise in the field of mass spectrometry and hyphenated techniques to the pages of LCGC. In this column she examines the mass spectrometric side of coupled liquid and gas-phase systems. Troubleshooting-style articles provide readers with invaluable advice for getting the most from their mass spectrometers. LATEST: Radical Mass Spectrometry as a New Frontier for Bioanalysis


LC Troubleshooting: LC Troubleshooting sets about making HPLC methods easier to master. By covering the basics of liquid chromatography separations and instrumentation, John Dolan is able to highlight common problems and provide remedies for them. LATEST: How Much Can I Inject? Part I: Injecting in Mobile Phase


More LCGC Columnists>>

LCGC North America Editorial Advisory Board>>

LCGC Europe Editorial Advisory Board>>

LCGC Editorial Team Contacts>>


Source: The Column,
Click here