Methane-producing Archaea are of interest due to their contribution to atmospheric change and for their roles in technological applications including waste treatment and biofuel production. Although restricted to anaerobic environments, methanogens are found in a wide variety of habitats, where they commonly live in syntrophic relationships with bacterial partners. Owing to tight thermodynamic constraints of methanogenesis alone or in syntrophic metabolism, methanogens must carefully regulate their catabolic pathways including the regulation of RNA transcripts. The transcriptome is a dynamic and important control point in microbial systems. This paper assesses the impact of mRNA (transcriptome) studies on the understanding of methanogenesis with special consideration given to how methanogenesis is regulated to cope with nutrient limitation, environmental variability, and interactions with syntrophic partners. In comparison with traditional microarray-based transcriptome analyses, next-generation high-throughput RNA sequencing is greatly advantageous in assessing transcription start sites, the extent of 5′ untranslated regions, operonic structure, and the presence of small RNAs. We are still in the early stages of understanding RNA regulation but it is already clear that determinants beyond transcript abundance are highly relevant to the lifestyles of methanogens, requiring further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics