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Environ Microbiol. 2000 Oct;2(5):477-84.

New perspectives on anaerobic methane oxidation.

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Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine 92679-3100, USA.


Anaerobic methane oxidation is a globally important but poorly understood process. Four lines of evidence have recently improved our understanding of this process. First, studies of recent marine sediments indicate that a consortium of methanogens and sulphate-reducing bacteria are responsible for anaerobic methane oxidation; a mechanism of 'reverse methanogenesis' was proposed, based on the principle of interspecies hydrogen transfer. Second, studies of known methanogens under low hydrogen and high methane conditions were unable to induce methane oxidation, indicating that 'reverse methanogenesis' is not a widespread process in methanogens. Third, lipid biomarker studies detected isotopically depleted archaeal and bacterial biomarkers from marine methane vents, and indicate that Archaea are the primary consumers of methane. Finally, phylogenetic studies indicate that only specific groups of Archaea and SRB are involved in methane oxidation. This review integrates results from these recent studies to constrain the responsible mechanisms.

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