Methylotrophs, which can utilize methane and/or methanol as sole carbon and energy sources, are key players in the carbon cycle between methane and CO2, the two most important greenhouse gases. This review describes the relationships between methylotrophs and plants, and between methanotrophs (methane-utilizers, a subset of methylotrophs) and heterotrophic bacteria. Some plants emit methane and methanol from their leaves, and provide methylotrophs with habitats. Methanol-utilizing methylotrophs in the genus Methylobacterium are abundant in the phyllosphere and have the ability to promote the growth of some plants. Methanotrophs also inhabit the phyllosphere, and methanotrophs with high methane oxidation activities have been found on aquatic plants. Both plant and environmental factors are involved in shaping the methylotroph community on plants. Methanotrophic activity can be enhanced by heterotrophic bacteria that provide growth factors (e.g., cobalamin). Information regarding the biological interaction of methylotrophs with other organisms will facilitate a better understanding of the carbon cycle that is driven by methylotrophs.
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