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Methanogens are microorganisms which produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in anoxic conditions. They are archaea, a different domain from bacteria. They are common in wetlands, where they are responsible for marsh gas.

They are also common in the digestive tracts of many animals, such as ruminants and humans. They are responsible for the methane content of belching in ruminants and flatulence in humans.[1]

In marine sediments methane is produced when sulfates are depleted, below the top layers.[2] Moreover, the methanogenic archaea populations play an indispensable role in anaerobic wastewater treatments.[3] Others are extremophiles, found in environments such as hot springs and submarine hydrothermal vents as well as in the "solid" rock of the Earth's crust, kilometers below the surface.

Methanogens can convert acetic acid to methane in a fermentation process. Do not confuse them with methanotrophs, which use up methane for their carbon and energy requirements.

References[change | change source]

  1. Joseph W. Lengeler (1999). Biology of the Prokaryotes. Stuttgart: Thieme. p. 796. ISBN 0-632-05357-7.
  2. J.K. Kristjansson, et al (1982). "Different Ks values for hydrogen of methanogenic bacteria and sulfate-reducing bacteria: an explanation for the apparent inhibition of methanogenesis by sulfate". Arch. Microbiol. 131 (3): 278–282. doi:10.1007/BF00405893. 
  3. Tabatabaei, Meisam et al 2010. Importance of the methanogenic archaea populations in anaerobic wastewater treatments. Process Biochemistry 45(8), 1214-1225