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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2006 Jun;17(3):262-7. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Rice Cluster I methanogens, an important group of Archaea producing greenhouse gas in soil.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.


Methane, which is an important greenhouse gas, is to a large part produced by methanogenic archaea in anoxic soils and sediments. Rice Cluster I methanogens have been characterized on the basis of their 16S rRNA and mcrA gene sequences, and were found to form a separate lineage within the phylogenetic radiation of Methanosarcinales and Methanomicrobiales. As isolation has not been achieved until recently, our knowledge of distribution, physiology and environmental significance of Rice Cluster I is solely based on molecular biology techniques. Rice Cluster I seems to be widely distributed, particularly in rice fields, possibly occupying different niches among the methane producers. One niche seems to be methane production on roots driven by plant photosynthesis, contributing substantially to the release of methane from rice fields into the atmosphere.

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