Roles and opportunities for microbial anaerobic oxidation of methane in natural and engineered systems

Chen Cai, Xueqin Zhang, Mengxiong Wu, Tao Liu, Chun Yu Lai, Joshua Frank, Bingqing He, Esteban Marcellin, Jianhua Guo, Shihu Hu, Zhiguo Yuan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Reduction in methane emissions to the Earth's atmosphere is a critical strategy for tackling climate change. It is well established that anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) associated with sulfate reduction functions as an important methane sink in marine sediments. However, recent findings show that AOM uses diverse electron acceptors across a range of habitats, prompting examination of the potential role of AOM in mitigation of methane emissions and global climate change in non-marine environments. Methane is also a valuable energy source, widely used for production of electricity. Recent studies suggest that AOM could be used to produce liquid fuels/chemicals. The potential involvement of CO2 in product formation is particularly exciting as methane bioconversion could act as a net sink of CO2. The discovery that AOM is able to transfer electrons to solid electron acceptors suggests that methane may be a suitable source of electrons for a bioelectrochemical, biosynthesis cell. In addition, AOM has been used for pollution control and environmental remediation, such as nitrogen removal from contaminated water. Herein, we review and discuss implications of the latest scientific discoveries in AOM for methane emissions from aquatic and terrestrial environments, and methane as a feedstock for various biotechnology platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4803-4830
Number of pages28
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution


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