Bio-conversion of methane into high profit margin compounds: an innovative, environmentally friendly and cost-effective platform for methane abatement
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Despite the environmental relevance of CH4 and forthcoming stricter regulations, the development of cost-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies for CH4 abatement is still limited. To date, one of the most promising solutions for the mitigation of this important GHG consists of the bioconversion of CH4 into bioproducts with a high profit margin. In this context, methanotrophs have been already proven as cell-factories of some of the most expensive products synthesized by microorganisms. In the case of ectoine (1000 $ kg−1), already described methanotrophic genera such as Methylomicrobium can accumulate up to 20% (ectoine wt−1) using methane as the only carbon source. Moreover, α-methanotrophs, such as Methylosynus and Methylocystis, are able to store bioplastic concentrations up to 50–60% of their total cell content. More than that, methanotrophs are one of the greatest potential producers of methanol and exopolysaccharides. Although this methanotrophic factory could be enhanced throughout metabolic engineering, the valorization of CH4 into valuable metabolites has been already consistently demonstrated under continuous and discontinuous mode, producing more than one compound in the same bioprocess, and using both, single strains and specific consortia. This review states the state-of-the-art of this innovative biotechnological platform by assessing its potential and current limitations.
KeywordsMethane abatement Market-value products Bio-transformation Ectoine Methanotrophs
This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the European FEDER program and the European Commission (CTM2015-73228-JIN, H2020- MSCA-IF-2016: CH4BioVal-GA:750126 and Red NOVEDAR). The financial support from the regional government of Castilla y León and the Sustainable Processes Institute are also gratefully acknowledged (UIC71).
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