In clathrate hydrates, a water host lattice encages small guest molecules in cavities. Methane hydrates are the most widespread in-situ clathrate in the permafrost and continental-shelf ocean regions, constituting a significant energy resource, and prompting recent marine-hydrate gas-production trials. Despite exciting engineering advances and a few marine-mimicking laboratory studies of methane-hydrate kinetics and stabilization, from microbial perspectives, little is known about a potential microbial origin of marine hydrates, nor their possible formation kinetics or potential stabilization by microbial sources. Here, for the first time, we show that an exported, extra-cytoplasmic porin–produced by a marine methylotrophic bacterium culture–provides the basis for kinetic enhancement and stabilization of methane hydrates under conditions simulating the seabed environment. We then identify the key protein at play, and we therefore suggest microbe-based stabilization of marine hydrates is evidently a property likely to be found in many marine bacteria. Our research opens the possibility of managing marine-hydrate deposits using microbiological strategies for environmental and societal benefit.
- Methane hydrates