Metabolic interactions between anaerobic bacteria in methanogenic environments

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1994;66(1-3):271-94. doi: 10.1007/BF00871644.


In methanogenic environments organic matter is degraded by associations of fermenting, acetogenic and methanogenic bacteria. Hydrogen and formate consumption, and to some extent also acetate consumption, by methanogens affects the metabolism of the other bacteria. Product formation of fermenting bacteria is shifted to more oxidized products, while acetogenic bacteria are only able to metabolize compounds when methanogens consume hydrogen and formate efficiently. These types of metabolic interaction between anaerobic bacteria is due to the fact that the oxidation of NADH and FADH2 coupled to proton or bicarbonate reduction in thermodynamically only feasible at low hydrogen and formate concentrations. Syntrophic relationships which depend on interspecies hydrogen or formate transfer were described for the degradation of e.g. fatty acids, amino acids and aromatic compounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism*
  • Benzoates / metabolism
  • Electron Transport
  • Euryarchaeota / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Formates / metabolism
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Sewage


  • Acetates
  • Amino Acids
  • Benzoates
  • Fatty Acids
  • Formates
  • Sewage
  • Hydrogen