methane-oxidizing bacteria[′meth‚ān ¦äk·sə‚dīz·iŋ bak′tir·ē·ə]
bacteria capable of assimilating methane and methyl alcohol in low concentrations as their sole sources of energy and carbon.
Methane-oxidizing bacteria are characterized by a developed membrane apparatus. They do not grow on ordinary media. A typical representative of the group is Methanomonas methanica, a nonsporiferous gram-negative flagellate bacillus. The assimilation of the methane carbon is accomplished either through the synthesis of allulose phosphate or the formation of the amino acid serine. Inexpensive fodder protein can be produced by growing the bacteria on natural gas consisting mainly of methane. Methane-oxidizing bacteria inhabit bodies of water, oxidizing the methane formed in the silt. They are also found in the soil above gas or petroleum deposits. Attempts have been made to control methane accumulations in mines by using methane-oxidizing bacteria.