You are on page 1of 3

Methanotrophs Methanotrophs are a special kind of hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria that use methane as the only source of energy, and

act as the primary source of enzymes involved in aerobic oxidation of methane. Methanotrophs basically grow in hydro-carbonic environments and are abundantly available in wet lands like pitfalls, landfills, and deep oceans with natural gas seeps. The effect of Methanotrophs is important in keeping methane concentrations balanced in freshwater, sediments, and soils. Also, they play a vital role in controlling the methane gas released to the environment, resulting reduction of green house gas effect. Methanotrophs can be classified in to different class depending on the internal membrane arrangement and on the carbon assimilation pathway employed. Scientists have recognized three main kinds of methanotrophs. Type one methanotrophs, belong to the category of α-Protiobacteria, consists of “stacked membranes of harboring methane monooxygenase (pMMO).” This class of methanotrops catalyzes the primary reaction of methane oxidation process, and converts the methyl formaldehyde to multi-carbon compounds using the “ribulose monoposphate cycle.” Type two methanotrophs are involved in the reaction of converting formaldehyde in to biomass using the “Serine cycle.” They consist of “rings of pMMO-harboring membranes at the periphery of the cells”, and belong to the category of α- Protiobacteria. The third type of methanotrophs, named X-methanotrophs, belong to the category of “Methylococcus”. It has the combined features of both type one and type two methanotrophs (Chistoserdava 2005).

This microbial degradation of hydrocarbon containing two or more carbon atoms usually starts by oxidizing the methyl group to a primary alcohol. However, the oxidation of

almost 80% of methane released from natural seeps is consumed by methanotrophs. Thus. the methanotrphs activity directly effect in reducing global warming. the concept of methane oxidation with the presence of micro-organism has not yet been perfected. Typically. To oxidize methane. which is initiated and catalyzed by methanotrophs. FLD represent “formaldehyde dehydrogenase” and FMD stands for “formate dehydrogenase” (Rojo 2009). The path way for this microbial aerobic (with the presence of oxygen) oxidation of methane in a wet environment can be represented as (Eq. MD refers to "methanol dehydrogenase. According to the literature. Methane is the simplest form of Alkane gas having polar molecules. is vital in controlling the methane release to the environment. and their numbers increase considerably in methane polluted sites. the way methanotrophs energize this process is still not well understood. render methanol that is subsequently transformed to formaldehyde and then to formic acid and carbon dioxide. Methane is one of the major compounds that contribute to the global warming. In simple terms. 1). this can be represented as the oxidation of methane with stoichiometric ratio of methane to oxygen as 1:2 (Eq. CH4 + 2O2 CO2 + H2O (2) This process. However. methanotrophs need to break those strong bonds. sand or ocean sediment contains some amount of methanotrophs. soil. It has the Global Warming Potential (GWP) 23 times higher than carbon dioxide. which is a special case. CH4 MMO CH3OH MD CH2O FLD CHOOH FMD CO2 (1) where MMO stands for “methane monooxygenase”. However. 2). More . which makes it chemically inert.methane.

the behavior of methanotrophs in wetland or in fresh lakes has been the subject for experimental studies for many years. The methanotroph activity and their behavior in natural methane seeps like Mono lake California (Carini et al. a few months after the spill. More interestingly. causing threats to millions of species. 1974. which is when this microbial oxidation of methane happens in the water column. 1976). However. 2011). However. 2005). . 2001) have been studied. this has disclosed one of the undesirable effects of Methanotrophs.studies need to be conducted at the molecular level to identify the exact process of this microbial (methanotroph) oxidation of methane. making a favorable environment for methanotrophs. no significant work has been done related to marine water until the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The huge amount of methane released into the sea during the 83 days of spill has given rise to many studies on fate of the released methane. that result in reduction of the dissolved oxygen level in water. Shield lake (Rudd et al. That methane gas release resulted in an increase of concentration of dissolved methane in the water column. scientists have found that the dissolved oxygen level in the water column in spill area has been extensively reduced (Joye et al. and some of these studies have been extended to saline water. However. This oxygen anomaly reveals the fact that the methanotrophs have been active in the region. and Eel River (Valentine et al. and consumed most of the released methane.