Methanogenesis from Carbon Monoxide

  • Christian Schöne
  • Michael Rother
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


The biological formation of methane, methanogenesis, constitutes the final step of biomass degradation in anaerobic environments where exogenous electron acceptors are scarce. It is therefore a fundamentally important aspect of the global carbon cycle. The organisms responsible are methanogenic archaea (methanogens), a diverse but monophyletic group within the Euryarchaeota. The major metabolic substrates for methanogenic energy metabolism are H2 + CO2, methylated compounds, and acetate. From a bioenergetic and biochemical standpoint, carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic, odorless, flammable gas, which accrues from incomplete combustion, could be considered an excellent source of energy and carbon for methanogens, but the capacity to grow on CO, i.e., carboxidotrophic growth, has been demonstrated only for a few methanogenic species. It appears that CO is not a well-suited methanogenic substrate due to its toxicity toward transition metal-containing enzymes and the negative reduction potential of the CO2/CO couple. In this chapter, we will summarize current knowledge about the catabolic pathways of CO utilization in hydrogenotrophic and methylotrophic methanogens, how they are coupled to energy conservation, and how they cope with the unfavorable properties of CO.



We are grateful for financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für MikrobiologieTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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