Is gas produced by bacteria always mainly methane? Or, are there bacteria out there that produce some biogas composed mainly of hydrogen, natural gas, propane, butane?

  • $\begingroup$ synthetic biology is working hard to produce such things, but they aren't found naturally in significant quantities I think. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Feb 24 '13 at 4:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ note that methanogens actually use $H_2$ that is generated by other bacteria. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Feb 25 '13 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't natural gas mainly methane? $\endgroup$ Apr 11 '20 at 7:24

Microbes can produce several gasses other than methane.

  • All microbes produce $CO_2$ through the oxidation of reduced carbon

Additionally some metabolic pathways produce other gases.

  • Photosynthetic microbes produce $O_2$

  • Sulfur reducing bacteria can produce $H_2S$ (as @ohcanada points out)

  • Denitrifying bacteria produce $NO$, $N_2O$, and $N_2$

  • Fermenters produce $H_2$ (as @mart indicates)

There may be others that I am not thinking of but these are some of the major players...

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. Although fermentation can produce carbon dioxide too. $\endgroup$ Feb 25 '13 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JackAidley indeed they do... thanks. I edited the answer. $\endgroup$
    – DQdlM
    Feb 25 '13 at 14:40

Well, some bacteria can produce Hydrogen Sulfide gas. For example, Proteus and Salmonella. The presence of $H_2S$ producing bacteria is actually clinically significant and we have a way to test for this, which is via the use of TSI (Triple Sugar Iron) media.

Assume you set up the test correctly, $H_2S$ producing bacteria will generate dark deposit within the media.

In the clinical setting, there are other choices beside TSI, such as SIM media and API20E.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks sviter! This is actually my first time using Stackexchange so I'm still trying to familiarize myself about the word format here. $\endgroup$
    – ohcanada
    Feb 24 '13 at 15:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.