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Chapter 10 : Bacteria That Produce and Use Methane

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Bacteria That Produce and Use Methane, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

The formation of methane (CH4) is actually the last phase of the anaerobic decomposition of photosynthetically produced organic matter by a large assortment of microbes with different appetites. The final microbes in this so-called food chain are the methanogens, a group of very anaerobic bacteria that generate methane. Methane (also known as "swamp gas") is colorless, odorless, combustible, and highly explosive in the presence of oxygen. Since methane can seep out of the ground through underground fissures near sewer and other pipes, it sometimes is the cause of dangerous explosions in neighborhoods adjacent to landfills. The digestive tracts of termites contain large numbers of methanogens, other anaerobic bacteria, and protozoa; these microbes efficiently process great quantities of wood and other biomass. Methane is already being used in about 400,000 vehicles around the world, including 250,000 in Italy and 20,000 to 30,000 in the United States. An engine designed especially for methane has an energy efficiency greater than that of ordinary automobiles. Microbes that can use methane or methyl alcohol (CH3OH) as their sole source of carbon and energy are widely distributed in nature (in mud, natural waters, and soils). Organisms with this capacity are called methylotrophs because the common chemical feature of methane and methyl alcohol is the methyl group. Methane utilization is restricted to certain bacterial species, which frequently can also grow on methyl alcohol. Imperial Chemical Industries in England has marketed dried cells of methylotrophic bacteria, grown on methyl alcohol, under the name "Pruteen."

Citation: Gest H. 2003. Bacteria That Produce and Use Methane, p 58-64. In Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817855.ch10
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Citation: Gest H. 2003. Bacteria That Produce and Use Methane, p 58-64. In Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817855.ch10
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Table 6

Heats of combustion of various substances

Citation: Gest H. 2003. Bacteria That Produce and Use Methane, p 58-64. In Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817855.ch10

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