A large fraction of the ocean-to-atmosphere flux of methane occurs in well-oxygenated, open ocean oligotrophic gyres, a phenomenon seemingly at odds with well-known pathways of archaeal methane production under strictly anaerobic conditions. Nearly a decade ago, David Karl and colleagues at the University of Hawaii proposed that water column methane could arise from bacterial metabolism of methylphosphonate, a simple organic compound with reduced phosphorus bonded directly to carbon. However, evidence for this pathway in the environment was lacking. In a recent study published in Nature Geoscience, Repeta et al. (2016) were able to test Karl’s hypothesis using a combination of microbial incubations, genomic analyses, and in-depth chemical analyses of marine dissolved organic matter (DOM). The study revealed that polysaccharides decorated with methyl- and hydroxyethylphosphonate esters are abundant throughout the water column, and that methane and ethylene were quickly produced by natural consortia of bacteria exposed to DOM-amended seawater. Companion knock-out experiments of bacteria isolates further showed that the C-P lyase metabolic pathway was responsible for methane production. Daily cycling of only 0.25% DOM polysaccharide can easily support measured fluxes of marine methane to the atmosphere. Figure from Repeta et al. (2016).