Biotechnology University of Wrocław

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The anaerobic digestion of organic substrate is accomplished by the cooperation of different microorganisms consortia. Essentially during the anaerobic digestion organic matter is converted to carbon dioxide and methane. Methane formation is the final step in the decay of organic matter and a form of anaerobic respiration. Methanogenesis is often referred to as then bottleneck of the biogas process. Only this last step is performed by methanogens which can use a few small carbon containing molecules being terminal electron acceptors. As a consequence the majority of free energy of biomass is conserved in methane, which may be used as biofuel.

The application of energy from renewable resources started, when Louis Pasteur in 1884 produced biogas from horse dung collected from Paris roads and claimed that this should be sufficient to cover the requirements for the street lighting. From this time production and utilization of biogas increased till the flourishing of petrochemical industry after second world war, resulting in low price of fuels from oil. Biogas production technology is developing relatively slowly. One of the important technological breakthrough was the design of USAB bioreactor which enabled increased efficiency. Another important milestone was  development of mathematical model describing the most important processes and reactions named Anaerobic Digestion Model number one (ADM1). ADM1 model showed that the crucial role in the process plays not very well defined microbial population. The first described methanogen was Methanosarcina mazei in 1936. The number of described species increased slowly. Most of the described species had the optimal growth temperature  around 37 °C, but several new described species have also more diverse growth preferences.  In 1988 Boone and Whitman proposed minimal standards for describing new taxa of methanogenic bacteria. Standardized description would be very helpful, but even more useful would be database describing methanogens which was the aim of this project.

Methanogens database should be helpful in description of new species and data mining leading to new basic discoveries and to development of new technologies for more efficient biogas production. The first version of database contain several features interesting for taxonomy and biotechnological applications.

An introduction to the background of the database and its use can be
found in:
Jabłoński, S.J., Rodowicz, P., Łukaszewicz, M. (2015). The methanogenic archae database platform for research and development. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 65: 1360-1368, doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.000065

We will be happy of your feedback and future collaboration in development of this database.