Editorial: Microbial C1 Metabolism and Biotechnology

Wei Xiong, Marina Kalyuzhnaya, Calvin Henard

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1 Scopus Citations


Archaea and bacteria with the capacity to utilize one-carbon (C1) molecules as carbon and energy sources are widespread across the planet and are important players in many biogeochemical processes. As such, they occupy an array of diverse anaerobic and aerobic niches and perform unique metabolisms that enable the utilization of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), formate (HCOOH), methanol (CH3OH), and methane (CH4) for growth. Several industrial processes have been developed that leverage these microbes for the targeted conversion of anthropogenic waste gases that contain C1 molecules, including natural gas (CH4), anaerobic digestion-derived biogas (CH4 and CO2), industrial flue gas (CO2 and CO), and syngas (CO2, CO, and H2) (Figure 1). Further, there is increasing interest in electrochemical reduction of CO2 to CO, CH4, and intermediates with increased solubility compared to gaseous C1 molecules (formate and methanol) using electrons derived from renewable sources like wind, solar, or hydrothermal systems to mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gas. Thus, C1-utilizing microbes will likely play an integral role in biotechnologies that are part of a sustainable, circular bioeconomy. However, fundamental knowledge gaps into the metabolism and physiology of these microbes exist that limit their utility as biocatalysts for carbon-efficient biomanufacturing. This special topic presents studies focused on the fundamental aspects of C1 metabolism in diverse microbial systems with the ability to convert anthropogenic greenhouse gases into valuable products.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number744030
Number of pages3
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-81079


  • autotroph
  • biocatalyst
  • carboxydotroph
  • formatotroph
  • greenhouse gas
  • methanotroph
  • methylotroph
  • one-carbon metabolism


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