Evidence for methane production by saprotrophic fungi

Nat Commun. 2012;3:1046. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2049.


Methane in the biosphere is mainly produced by prokaryotic methanogenic archaea, biomass burning, coal and oil extraction, and to a lesser extent by eukaryotic plants. Here we demonstrate that saprotrophic fungi produce methane without the involvement of methanogenic archaea. Fluorescence in situ hybridization, confocal laser-scanning microscopy and quantitative real-time PCR confirm no contribution from microbial contamination or endosymbionts. Our results suggest a common methane formation pathway in fungal cells under aerobic conditions and thus identify fungi as another source of methane in the environment. Stable carbon isotope labelling experiments reveal methionine as a precursor of methane in fungi. These findings of an aerobic fungus-derived methane formation pathway open another avenue in methane research and will further assist with current efforts in the identification of the processes involved and their ecological implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Basidiomycota / genetics
  • Basidiomycota / metabolism*
  • Biomass
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Methionine / metabolism


  • Methionine
  • Methane