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As much as 70 percent of all earth’s bacteria live underground. That is almost twice as much the volume of all oceans in our planet. Karen Lloyd, UT assistant professor of microbiology, explains more about what this discovery could entail for humanity and the fight against climate change.

 

Transcript

ANDREA SCHNEIBEL: Welcome to Science Minute, a research audiocast by the University of Tennessee. I’m Andrea Schneibel.

As much as 70 percent of all earth’s bacteria live underground, according to findings recently announced by the Deep Carbon Observatory and coauthored by UT Professor of Microbiology Karen Lloyd.

Lloyd and her team found that this group of underground microbes has a volume of 2 to 2.3 billion cubic kilometers. That is almost twice as much the volume of all oceans in our planet.

KAREN LLOYD: We’re discovering new branches on the tree of life that we didn’t even know about for the past 20 years. All these things could have potentially uses for biotechnology or to help us understand how earth’s history has developed.

SCHNEIBEL: Understanding how these microorganisms interact with carbon could help scientists develop mitigation strategies against climate change with additional time and research.

LLOYD: As we look for ways to mitigate climate change, we’ll be looking to put greenhouse gases into deep inside the earth. But now we know that the deep earth is not a sterile place, and there are microbes down there that could be either helping to sequester this carbon or working against us to bring it back into the atmosphere.

SCHNEIBEL: Thanks for listening to Science Minute. For the University of Tennessee, I’m Andrea Schneibel.


Microphone IconScience Minute is an audiocast dedicated to showcasing the work and expertise of faculty members and researchers at the University of Tennessee. Whether it is the latest news in microbiology, health sciences, or history and anthropology, UT experts will explain complex topics in 90-second episodes.

Science Minute is produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee. New episodes are released every other Thursday.