Quantification of Methanogenic Pathways Using Stable Carbon Isotopic Signatures

  • Quan YuanEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2046)


In many anaerobic environments methane (CH4) is produced by methanogens, with either H2/CO2 or acetate (i.e., the methyl group) as precursors, through what are referred to as hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenic pathways respectively. Their relative contribution to total CH4 production can be quantified by determining the stable carbon isotopic fractionation factors for both pathways as well as the isotopic signatures of CO2, CH4, and the methyl group in acetate of the sample. The procedures for measuring carbon isotopic fractionation factors of both methanogenic pathways and isotopic composition of these compounds by isotope ratio mass spectrometry are described in this chapter. The results are very helpful in evaluating the activity of the methanogens involved in each methanogenic pathway as well as those of other biological pathways with different fractionation factors.

Key words

Stable carbon isotope Isotopic fractionation factor Methane Methanogenic pathway GC-C-IRMS 



This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41573083) and State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry (SKLEG2015403), China.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangChina

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