Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Methane source discovered in the underbrush

06.09.2012
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry: Greenhouse gas is also released by fungi

Some six years ago scientific textbooks had to be updated because of the surprising discovery made by the research group led by Frank Keppler that plants produce methane in an oxygen-rich environment.


Methane producers in the underbrush: new research shows that fungi can also produce methane.
© Katharina Lenhart

At that time this was unthinkable, since it was commonly accepted that biogenic methane could only be formed during the decomposition of organic material under strictly anoxic conditions. His group has now made another fascinating new observation: fungi produce methane.

Methane is 25 times more effective as a greenhouse gas when compared with carbon dioxide. Thus, it contributes significantly to climate change. It is alarming that the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has now almost tripled compared with the state before industrialization. Most methane is produced by bacteria in rice fields, landfills or cattle farming. Following the study of Frank Keppler and his colleagues in 2006 which reported that plants also produce methane, his research team has continued to focus on methane sources. Now Katharina Lenhart, a member of Frank Keppler’s research group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, has made another interesting discovery. She discovered that fungi, which decompose dead organic matter, also emit methane.

In her study, the biologist examined eight different Basidiomycetes fungi. Under laboratory conditions she observed methane production and verified her finding using isotopic labelled substrates. During her experiments she varied the culture media on which the fungi grew and found that the underlying substrate has an impact on the amount of methane formed. Various molecular, biological and analytical methods, in collaborative work with the University of Giessen and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Magdeburg, showed that no methanogenic microorganisms (called archaea) – which produce methane in their energy metabolism – were involved. “Thus, processes within the fungi must be responsible for the formation of methane,” explains Katharina Lenhart. As yet which processes these are remains unknown.

“When compared to other well-known methane sources, the amount of methane released by fungi is rather low. Their contribution to global warming is therefore classified as negligible,” says Frank Keppler. Of great scientific interest, however, is the ecological relevance of these results, especially since fungi are in some instances closely associated with bacteria. Many bacteria utilize the energy-rich methane in their metabolism. They absorb methane and oxidize it to water and carbon dioxide. Currently unknown is the extent to which the methane released by fungi is absorbed by these associated bacteria or whether they benefit directly from it, concludes the biologist Katharina Lenhart.

This work is a solid foundation for follow up studies by interdisciplinary research teams to provide the explanation as to why fungi emit methane to their environment.

AR

Original Publication

„Evidence for methane production by saprotrophic fungi“, Katharina Lenhart, Michael Bunge, Stefan Ratering, Thomas R. Neu, Ina Schüttmann, Markus Greule, Claudia Kammann, Sylvia Schnell, Christoph Müller, Holger Zorn, and Frank Keppler; Nature Communications
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2049

Contact Partner

Dr. Katharina Lenhart
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Department of Atmospheric Chemistry, ORCAS Research Group
Tel: +49 6131/ 305 4822
E-Mail: katharina.lenhart@mpic.de

Dr. Frank Keppler
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Department of Atmospheric Chemistry, ORCAS Research Group
Tel: +49 6131/ 305 4800
E-Mail: frank.keppler@mpic.de

Dr. Susanne Benner | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpic.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>