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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Sep 17;47(18):10708-17. doi: 10.1021/es4020184. Epub 2013 Aug 26.

Metagenomics of hydrocarbon resource environments indicates aerobic taxa and genes to be unexpectedly common.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary , Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada.

Abstract

Oil in subsurface reservoirs is biodegraded by resident microbial communities. Water-mediated, anaerobic conversion of hydrocarbons to methane and CO2, catalyzed by syntrophic bacteria and methanogenic archaea, is thought to be one of the dominant processes. We compared 160 microbial community compositions in ten hydrocarbon resource environments (HREs) and sequenced twelve metagenomes to characterize their metabolic potential. Although anaerobic communities were common, cores from oil sands and coal beds had unexpectedly high proportions of aerobic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria. Likewise, most metagenomes had high proportions of genes for enzymes involved in aerobic hydrocarbon metabolism. Hence, although HREs may have been strictly anaerobic and typically methanogenic for much of their history, this may not hold today for coal beds and for the Alberta oil sands, one of the largest remaining oil reservoirs in the world. This finding may influence strategies to recover energy or chemicals from these HREs by in situ microbial processes.

PMID:
23889694
PMCID:
PMC3864245
DOI:
10.1021/es4020184
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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