Consumption of methane by aerobic and anaerobic microbes governs the atmospheric level of this powerful greenhouse gas. Whereas a biochemical understanding of aerobic methanotrophy is well developed, a mechanistic understanding of anaerobic methanotrophy has been prevented by the unavailability of pure cultures. Here we report a biochemical investigation of Methanosarcina acetivorans, a methane-producing species capable of anaerobic methanotrophic growth dependent on reduction of Fe(III). Our findings support a pathway anchored by Fe(III)-dependent mechanisms for energy conservation driving endergonic reactions that are key to methanotrophic growth. The pathway is remarkably similar to pathways hypothesized for uncultured anaerobic methanotrophic archaea. The results contribute to an improved understanding of the methane cycle that is paramount to understanding human interventions influencing Earth's climate. Finally, the pathway enables advanced development and optimization of biotechnologies converting methane to value-added products through metabolic engineering of M. acetivorans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)