Highly efficient methane biocatalysis revealed in a methanotrophic bacterium

Nat Commun. 2013;4:2785. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3785.


Methane is an essential component of the global carbon cycle and one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, yet it is also a promising alternative source of carbon for the biological production of value-added chemicals. Aerobic methane-consuming bacteria (methanotrophs) represent a potential biological platform for methane-based biocatalysis. Here we use a multi-pronged systems-level approach to reassess the metabolic functions for methane utilization in a promising bacterial biocatalyst. We demonstrate that methane assimilation is coupled with a highly efficient pyrophosphate-mediated glycolytic pathway, which under oxygen limitation participates in a novel form of fermentation-based methanotrophy. This surprising discovery suggests a novel mode of methane utilization in oxygen-limited environments, and opens new opportunities for a modular approach towards producing a variety of excreted chemical products using methane as a feedstock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Formaldehyde / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Methylococcaceae / physiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Transcriptome


  • Formaldehyde
  • Methane

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE51145