The Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane: New Insights in Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry

  • K.-U. Hinrichs
  • A. Boetius


As the major biological sink of methane in marine sediments, the microbially mediated anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) is crucial in its role of maintaining a sensitive balance of our atmosphere’s greenhouse gas content. Although there is now sufficient geochemical evidence to exactly locate the “hot spots” of AOM, and to crudely estimate its contribution to the methane cycle, a fundamental understanding of the associated biology is still lacking, consequently preventing a thorough biogeochemical understanding of an integral process in the global carbon cycle. Earlier microbiological work trying to resolve the enigma of AOM mostly failed because it was largely focussed on the simulation of AOM under laboratory conditions using cultivable candidate organisms. Now again, understanding the biological and biochemical details of AOM is the declared goal of several interational research groups, but this time in a combined effort of biogeochemists and microbiologists using novel analytical tools tailored for the study of unknown microbes and habitats. This review gives an overview on very recent progress in the study of AOM that dramatically advanced this ~ 30-yr-old field. New insights on the quantitative significance of AOM are combined to refine older estimates.


Ether Lipid Methanogenic Archaea Anaerobic Oxidation Anaerobic Methane Oxidation Methane Seep 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • K.-U. Hinrichs
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Boetius
    • 3
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Hanse — WissenschaftskollegDelmenhorstGermany
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute for Marine MicrobiologyBremenGermany

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