About this Research Topic
Methane is a highly-reduced C1 compound formed under anaerobic conditions by the degradation of organic materials or by thermogenic routes. Every year, ~ 6,875 MMt CO2eq of methane are emitted into the atmosphere and simply wasted. By developing a better understanding of methane production and methane conversion technologies, the “methane bio-refinery” will emerge as a new platform for value-added product development. Methane production is assisted by complex microbial community structures (a black-box) that vary widely in different model systems. With the aid of molecular techniques, certain metabolic functions and key genes were identified for the key players in methane production pathways. In parallel, factors governing low methane production and the role of specific compounds that facilitate anaerobic methane oxidations are researched. However, the high-rate of electron flow towards methanogens are suggested as key to improving the process, and different concepts of electron transfer theories are also validated using conventional, electro-assisted and bio-augmented systems. But there is still scope to improve the process, which requires a better understanding of microbial ecology and interactions in model systems.
Microbial methane oxidation is now envisioned as a novel biological platform for further methane valorization. The methane oxidizing microbes are capable of converting methane into biomass as short/long chain fatty acids, omega fatty acids, biopolymers, vitamins, methanol, formate, biocompatible solutes, etc. The area of industrial applications and innovations is challenged by long-standing fundamental questions of methane biocatalysts including: (a) source of electron donors as well as electron acceptors for the process intensification; (b) improved genetic tractability of microbial systems and (c) a better systems-level understanding; (c) coupling of CH4-conversion potential with efficient nitrogen fixation and denitrification; (d) technological bottlenecks linked to mass-transfer limitation, improved O2-capturing, organic and inorganic compounds removal (e.g. chlorinated hydrocarbons or H2S); (e) metal acquisitions/remediation and leaching (e.g. copper); and (f) regulation of contaminations or development of efficient synthetic communities.
With this background, the proposed topic aims (but is not limited) to attract research papers under the following themes (i) Isolation and Identification of novel traits for methane production/conversion; (ii) Systems-Level characterization of core metabolic functions of methanogens or methanotrophs; (iii) Interactomics among C1-cycling members of complex community; (iv) Metabolic Engineering for improved methane production or valorization; (v) Comparative Genomic approaches and novel genetic tools for the identification of key metabolic pathways and manipulation approaches in methane production/oxidation; (vi) Innovations: any new research directions to support high-rate methane recovery, delivery and conversion; and (vi) Bioproducts and Bioreactors: novel bioproduct development and process improvements in new bioreactors. In addition, any pilot scale demonstrations, process integrations, techno economical or life-cycle assessments, point source methane emissions and monitoring, as well as microbial community structure investigation and modelling studies are invited for this special issue publication. The special topic will also consider review articles, if they fit within the scope.
Keywords: anaerobic metabolism, methanotrophs, bioreactors, methane ecology, value added products
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