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HYDROGEN CYCLE

Anaerobic fermentation of organic substances to carbon dioxide and methane is a collaborative


effort involving many different biochemical reactions, processes and species of microorganisms.
One of these many processes that occur is termed "interspecies hydrogen transfer".
This process has been described as integral to the symbiosis between certain methane-producing
bacteria (methanogens) and nonmethanogenic anaerobes. In this symbiosis, the
nonmethanogenic anaerobes degrade the organic substance and produce -among other things-
molecular hydrogen (H2).
This hydrogen is then taken up by methanogens and converted to methane via methanogenesis.
One important characteristic of interspecies hydrogen transfer is that the H2 concentration in the
microbial environment is very low. Maintaining a low hydrogen concentration is important
because the anaerobic fermentative process become increasingly thermodynamically unfavorable
as the partial pressure of hydrogen increases.
A key difference compared to other biogeochemical cycles is that because of its low molecular
weight hydrogen can leave Earth's atmosphere. It has been suggested that this occurred on a
grand scale in the past and that this is why today the Earth is mostly irreversibly oxidised.
Relevance for the Global Climate
H
2
is a trace, secondary greenhouse gas that interferes with the removal of methane. H
2
interacts with
hydroxyl radicals (OH), reducing them to H
2
O (water). OH radicals that would typically oxidize methane
in the following reaction are removed if they first interact with H
2
in the atmosphere.


Main Components

Sources
Methane and non methane hydrocarbon oxidation
Industries and fossil fuels
Biomass burning
Nitrogen fixation
Oceans
Sinks
Oxidation by hydroxyl radicals
Microbial soil uptake

Atmosphere
Photochemical Reactions
Terrestrial Biosphere
Microbe-mediated soil uptake
Nitrogen-fixation by-products
Biomass Burning

Anthropogenic
Fossil Fuel & Industrial Output