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Production of methane and carbon dioxode from methane thiol and dimethyl sulphide by anaerobic lake sediments


METHANE THIOL (methyl mercaptan, MeSH), its oxidation product, dimethyl disulphide (DMDS), and dimethyl sulphide (DMS) are naturally occurring metabolites. They are also produced by paper mills using the kraft pulp process1 and cause an industrial odour problem because of their low odour threshold. Although the biological production of these compounds is fairly well understood2, little is known about their biological decomposition. We report here that microbial populations present in anaerobic freshwater sediments and in anaerobic sewage digestor sludge are capable of metabolising the carbon in these volatile organic sulphur compounds to methane and carbon dioxide. Therefore, anaerobic habitats may serve as sinks in the biogeochemical cycling of these compounds.

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