Craig Venter, the controversial American scientist who helped decode the human genome, has announced the discovery of ancient bacteria that can turn coal into methane, suggesting they may help to solve the world’s energy crisis.
The bugs, discovered a mile underground by one of Venter’s microbial prospecting teams, are said to have unique enzymes that can break down coal. Venter said he was already working with BP on how to exploit the find.
He said: “We have found a huge number of microbes a mile or so deep in the earth. In fact, there is more diversity under the surface of the earth than in the ocean. It is absolutely stunning.
“Some of these underground water sources have been isolated for 50m to 135m years and we have found totally unique organisms.”
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