Methanogenesis And Environmental Pollution

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Introduction

Methane in the earth atmosphere is an important greenhouse gas with global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide and considerable evidence of climate change is also associated with emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), in the atmosphere (IPCC, 2007). The primary sources of methane emission may be divided into natural (30%) and anthropogenic (70%) (Wuebbles & Hayhoe, 2001). Among the anthropogenic factors agriculture, including animal production is a major sector with highly significant contribution to environmental pollution. According to Steinfeld et al. (2006), 80 million tonnes of methane is released annually to the atmosphere from animal production through enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation is responsible for 20% of total CH4 emissions from anthropogenic activities. Out of which 95 to 97% originate from ruminants, including 63 to 64% produced by cattle, 9 to 10% by water buffaloes, 8% by sheep, while 3.8 to 3.9% by goats (Johnson and Ward, 1996). Ruminal methane production account for 2 to 12% dietary energy loss in ruminants (Johnson and Johnson, 1995). The adult cow produces around 300 liters of methane per day.

Methanogenesis or biomethanation is the formation of methane by microbes known as methanogens. Methanogens are phylogenetically distinct from both eukaryotes and bacteria, although exist in close association with anaerobic bacteria. Methanogenesis

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