Facultative methanotrophs - diversity, genetics, molecular ecology and biotechnological potential: a mini-review

Muhammad Farhan Ul Haque, Hui-Juan Xu, J. Colin Murrell, Andrew Crombie

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Methane-oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs) play a vital role in reducing atmospheric methane emissions, and hence mitigating their potent global warming effects. A significant proportion of the methane released is thermogenic natural gas, containing associated short-chain alkanes as well as methane. It was one hundred years following the description of methanotrophs that facultative strains were discovered and validly described. These can use some multi-carbon compounds in addition to methane, often small organic acids, such as acetate, or ethanol, although Methylocella strains can also use short-chain alkanes, presumably deriving a competitive advantage from this metabolic versatility. Here, we review the diversity and molecular ecology of facultative methanotrophs. We discuss the genetic potential of the known strains and outline the consequent benefits they may obtain. Finally, we review the biotechnological promise of these fascinating microbes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000977
Pages (from-to)894-908
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020


  • Methane
  • Methane monooxygenase
  • Methylocapsa
  • Methylocella
  • Methylocystis
  • biogeochemical cycling
  • facultative methanotrophs

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