Beyond known methanogens

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 384
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4066

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Recent advances in DNA sequencing and analysis have shown that much of the microbial life on Earth differs from previously described organisms. The organisms in this “microbial dark matter” are globally ubiquitous and numerous but have largely unknown physiologies (14). Given their great evolutionary distance from all laboratory cultures, these mysterious organisms may harbor unique functions with potentially useful biotechnological applications. Like most environments on Earth, coal-bed reservoirs contain microbial dark matter. On page 434 of this issue, Evans et al. (5) show that members of the microbial dark matter phylum Bathyarchaeota (6) from coal beds have the genetic potential to generate methane.