A bacterium that can produce hydrogen has been discovered by a researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Research on the bacterium "Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans" is still at an early stage, and has not yet been scaled up, but it could potentially lessen the world's dependence on oil if hydrogen becomes a realistic alternative to gasoline.

Dr. Melanie Mormile, professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T, and her team discovered the bacterium in Soap Lake, Washington. They found that it can produce hydrogen under saline and alkaline conditions in amounts that rival genetically modified organisms.

According to the university, Mormile had expected to find an iron-reducing bacterium, but instead she found a new species of bacterium that can produce hydrogen and 1, 3-propenediol under high pH and salinity conditions that might turn out to be valuable industrially.

An organic compound, 1, 3-propenediol can be formulated into industrial products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings. It is also a solvent and can be used as antifreeze, the university explained.

In an article featured in Frontiers in Microbiology, Mormile said that the organism relies on a number of fermentative metabolisms. It has been found to form acetate, formate and hydrogen as fermentation products from simple sugars. It can also ferment glycerol, a widespread carbon source in saline environments.