Two microbes, known as Archaea, consume 90% of the greenhouse gas methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere from melting methane hydrates. However, these anaerobic microbes, which live in the ocean sediments, do so using a sulfur compound, methyl sulfide, rather than simply reversing the biochemistry of methane-making microbes. According to Christopher House and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University: "The Archaea take in the methane and produce a methyl sulfide, and then the sulfur-reducing bacteria eat the methyl sulfide and reduced it to sulfide," explains House. Understanding how these symbiotic organisms remove methane from the oceans is important because without them the average global atmospheric temperature would likely be warmer by about 10 degrees Celsius.
Methane release in reverse