Earth’s Microbiome: A Brave New World!

Fighting Climate Change with Methane-Eating ‘Borgs’

In Star Trek, the Borg are a nefarious species, a hive-mind collective that works to take over the galaxy by assimilating other species. Borgs also exist on the real planet Earth, but in this case, they are DNA packages found in bacteria that could assist humans in resisting climate change.

A group led by Jill Banfield discovered DNA structures in a methane-consuming microbe called Methanoperedens that appear to enhance the organism's metabolic rate. Because the DNA within them includes genes assimilated from many organisms, they named these genetic elements 'Borgs.' In a recent study published on the cover of Nature, the researchers describe the unique gene pools within Borgs and investigate how these DNA bundles may impact environmental processes like carbon cycling.

Discovering Borgs