Biochemistry of Methanogenesis
Methanogenesis in microbes is a form of anaerobic respiration. Methanogens do not use oxygen to respire; in fact, oxygen inhibits the growth of methanogens. The terminal electron acceptor in methanogenesis is not oxygen, but carbon. The carbon can occur in a small number of organic compounds, all with low molecular weights. The two best described pathways involve the use of carbon dioxide and acetic acid as terminal electron acceptors:
CO2 + 4 H2 → CH4 + 2H2O
CH3COOH → CH4 + CO2
However, methanogenesis has been shown to use carbon from other small organic compounds, such as formic acid (formate), methanol, methylamines, dimethyl sulfide, and methanethiol.
The biochemistry of methanogenesis is relatively complex, involving the following coenzymes and cofactors: F420, coenzyme B, coenzyme M, methanofuran, and methanopterin.
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