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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2785. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3785.

Highly efficient methane biocatalysis revealed in a methanotrophic bacterium.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Box 355014, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Methane is an essential component of the global carbon cycle and one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, yet it is also a promising alternative source of carbon for the biological production of value-added chemicals. Aerobic methane-consuming bacteria (methanotrophs) represent a potential biological platform for methane-based biocatalysis. Here we use a multi-pronged systems-level approach to reassess the metabolic functions for methane utilization in a promising bacterial biocatalyst. We demonstrate that methane assimilation is coupled with a highly efficient pyrophosphate-mediated glycolytic pathway, which under oxygen limitation participates in a novel form of fermentation-based methanotrophy. This surprising discovery suggests a novel mode of methane utilization in oxygen-limited environments, and opens new opportunities for a modular approach towards producing a variety of excreted chemical products using methane as a feedstock.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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