Front Microbiol. 2022 Dec 15;13:1034674. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.1034674. eCollection 2022.
Methanogens are anaerobic archaea which conserve energy by producing methane. Found in nearly every anaerobic environment on earth, methanogens serve important roles in ecology as key organisms of the global carbon cycle, and in industry as a source of renewable biofuels. Environmentally, methanogenic archaea play an essential role in the reintroducing unavailable carbon to the carbon cycle by anaerobically converting low-energy, terminal metabolic degradation products such as one and two-carbon molecules into methane which then returns to the aerobic portion of the carbon cycle. In industry, methanogens are commonly used as an inexpensive source of renewable biofuels as well as serving as a vital component in the treatment of wastewater though this is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to their metabolic potential. In this review we will discuss how the efficient central metabolism of methanoarchaea could be harnessed for future biotechnology applications.