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Crude oil as a microbial seed bank with unexpected functional potentials.


ABSTRACT: It was widely believed that oil is a harsh habitat for microbes because of its high toxicity and hydrophobicity. However, accumulating evidence has revealed the presence of live microbes in crude oil. Therefore, it's of value to conduct an in-depth investigation on microbial communities in crude oil. To this end, microorganisms in oil and water phases were collected from four oil-well production mixtures in Qinghai Oilfield, China, and analyzed for their taxonomic and functional compositions via pyrosequencing and GeoChip, respectively. Hierarchical clustering of 16S rRNA gene sequences and functional genes clearly separated crude oil and water phases, suggestive of distinct taxonomic and functional gene compositions between crude oil and water phases. Unexpectedly, Pseudomonas dominated oil phase where diverse functional gene groups were identified, which significantly differed from those in the corresponding water phases. Meanwhile, most functional genes were significantly more abundant in oil phase, which was consistent with their important roles in facilitating survival of their host organisms in crude oil. These findings provide strong evidence that crude oil could be a "seed bank" of functional microorganisms with rich functional potentials. This offers novel insights for industrial applications of microbial-enhanced oil recovery and bioremediation of petroleum-polluted environments.

SUBMITTER: Cai M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4630613 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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