Methane oxidation by anaerobic archaea for conversion to liquid fuels
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- Mueller, T.J., Grisewood, M.J., Nazem-Bokaee, H. et al. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2015) 42: 391. doi:10.1007/s10295-014-1548-7
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Given the recent increases in natural gas reserves and associated drawbacks of current gas-to-liquids technologies, the development of a bioconversion process to directly convert methane to liquid fuels would generate considerable industrial interest. Several clades of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) are capable of performing anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). AOM carried out by ANME offers carbon efficiency advantages over aerobic oxidation by conserving the entire carbon flux without losing one out of three carbon atoms to carbon dioxide. This review highlights the recent advances in understanding the key enzymes involved in AOM (i.e., methyl-coenzyme M reductase), the ecological niches of a number of ANME, the putative metabolic pathways for AOM, and the syntrophic consortia that they typically form.