Indexed on: 06 Dec '09Published on: 06 Dec '09Published in: Microbiology
Acidic wetlands of the northern hemisphere are an important source of methane, a major greenhouse gas. The taxonomic identity of the aerobic methanotrophic bacteria, which colonize these environments and reduce the potential flux of methane to the atmosphere, has remained elusive for a long time. Both cultivation-independent molecular approaches and cultivation-based studies have been used to identify methanotrophs in this acidic habitat. It was shown that acidic peat is colonized mainly by methanotrophic representatives of the Alphaproteobacteria: Methylocystis spp., Methylocella spp. and Methylocapsa spp. Novel methanotrophic isolates from acidic wetlands display a number of unique characteristics and metabolic traits including unusual cell ultrastructure and fatty acid composition, ability to utilize some multicarbon compounds as growth substrates, and new regulatory mechanisms of methane oxidation. Several other methanotroph populations, which have been detected in acidic peat by molecular approaches but have so far eluded isolation, represent a challenge for further cultivation studies.