NASA Astrobiology Institute: August 2009

Marine Methane Oxidation Without Sulfur

A new study in Science from NAI's Penn State Team shows that the anaerobic oxidation of methane is not solely a sulfate-dependent process. Microbes cultured from marine methane seeps in California's Eel River Basin have demonstrated capability of using manganese and iron to oxidize methane to carbon dioxide. These same compounds may have been key to methane oxidation in the early, oxygen-less days of Earth's atmosphere.