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Distribution and environmental significance of nitrite-dependent anaerobic methane-oxidising bacteria in natural ecosystems

Shen, Li-dong, Wu, Hong-sheng, Gao, Zhi-qiu
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2015 v.99 no.1 pp. 133-142
bacteria, biotechnology, carbon, environmental factors, freshwater, global warming, greenhouse gases, lakes, marine ecosystems, methane, methane production, methanotrophs, nitrogen, oxidation, pollution, rivers, wetlands
Nitrite-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (N-DAMO) is a recently discovered process that is performed by “Candidatus Methylomirabilis oxyfera” (M. oxyfera). This process constitutes a unique association between the two major global elements essential to life, carbon and nitrogen, and may act as an important and overlooked sink of the greenhouse gas methane. In recent years, more and more studies have reported the distribution of M. oxyfera-like bacteria and the occurrence of N-DAMO process in different natural ecosystems, including freshwater lakes, rivers, wetlands and marine ecosystems. Previous studies have estimated that a total of 2 %–6 % of current worldwide methane flux in wetlands could be consumed via the N-DAMO process. These findings indicate that N-DAMO is indeed a previously overlooked methane sink in natural ecosystems. Given the worldwide increase in anthropogenic nitrogen pollution, the N-DAMO process as a methane sink in reducing global warming could become more important in the future. The present mini-review summarises the current knowledge of the ecological distribution of M. oxyfera-like bacteria and the potential importance of the N-DAMO process in reducing methane emissions in various natural ecosystems. The potential influence of environmental factors on the N-DAMO process is also discussed.