Project description:A culture-independent molecular phylogenetic approach was used to survey constituents of microbial communities associated with an aquifer contaminated with hydrocarbons (mainly jet fuel) and chlorinated solvents undergoing intrinsic bioremediation. Samples were obtained from three redox zones: methanogenic, methanogenic-sulfate reducing, and iron or sulfate reducing. Small-subunit rRNA genes were amplified directly from aquifer material DNA by PCR with universally conserved or Bacteria- or Archaea-specific primers and were cloned. A total of 812 clones were screened by restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP), approximately 50% of which were unique. All RFLP types that occurred more than once in the libraries, as well as many of the unique types, were sequenced. A total of 104 (94 bacterial and 10 archaeal) sequence types were determined. Of the 94 bacterial sequence types, 10 have no phylogenetic association with known taxonomic divisions and are phylogenetically grouped in six novel division level groups (candidate divisions WS1 to WS6); 21 belong to four recently described candidate divisions with no cultivated representatives (OP5, OP8, OP10, and OP11); and 63 are phylogenetically associated with 10 well-recognized divisions. The physiology of two particularly abundant sequence types obtained from the methanogenic zone could be inferred from their phylogenetic association with groups of microorganisms with a consistent phenotype. One of these sequence types is associated with the genus Syntrophus; Syntrophus spp. produce energy from the anaerobic oxidation of organic acids, with the production of acetate and hydrogen. The organism represented by the other sequence type is closely related to Methanosaeta spp., which are known to be capable of energy generation only through aceticlastic methanogenesis. We hypothesize, therefore, that the terminal step of hydrocarbon degradation in the methanogenic zone of the aquifer is aceticlastic methanogenesis and that the microorganisms represented by these two sequence types occur in syntrophic association.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sustainable management of voluminous and hazardous oily sludge produced by petroleum refineries remains a challenging problem worldwide. Characterization of microbial communities of petroleum contaminated sites has been considered as the essential prerequisite for implementation of suitable bioremediation strategies. Three petroleum refinery sludge samples from North Eastern India were analyzed using next-generation sequencing technology to explore the diversity and functional potential of inhabitant microorganisms and scope for their on-site bioremediation. RESULTS:All sludge samples were hydrocarbon rich, anaerobic and reduced with sulfate as major anion and several heavy metals. High throughput sequencing of V3-16S rRNA genes from sludge metagenomes revealed dominance of strictly anaerobic, fermentative, thermophilic, sulfate-reducing bacteria affiliated to Coprothermobacter, Fervidobacterium, Treponema, Syntrophus, Thermodesulfovibrio, Anaerolinea, Syntrophobacter, Anaerostipes, Anaerobaculum, etc., which have been well known for hydrocarbon degradation. Relatively higher proportions of archaea were detected by qPCR. Archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences showed presence of methanogenic Methanobacterium, Methanosaeta, Thermoplasmatales, etc. Detection of known hydrocarbon utilizing aerobic/facultative anaerobic (Mycobacterium, Pseudomonas, Longilinea, Geobacter, etc.), nitrate reducing (Gordonia, Novosphigobium, etc.) and nitrogen fixing (Azovibrio, Rhodobacter, etc.) bacteria suggested niche specific guilds with aerobic, facultative anaerobic and strict anaerobic populations. Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) predicted putative genetic repertoire of sludge microbiomes and their potential for hydrocarbon degradation; lipid-, nitrogen-, sulfur- and methane- metabolism. Methyl coenzyme M reductase A (mcrA) and dissimilatory sulfite reductase beta-subunit (dsrB) genes phylogeny confirmed methanogenic and sulfate-reducing activities within sludge environment endowed by hydrogenotrophic methanogens and sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria and Firmicutes members. CONCLUSION:Refinery sludge microbiomes were comprised of hydrocarbon degrading, fermentative, sulfate-reducing, syntrophic, nitrogen fixing and methanogenic microorganisms, which were in accordance with the prevailing physicochemical nature of the samples. Analysis of functional biomarker genes ascertained the activities of methanogenic and sulfate-reducing organisms within sludge environment. Overall data provided better insights on microbial diversity and activity in oil contaminated environment, which could be exploited suitably for in situ bioremediation of refinery sludge.
Project description:A fundamental knowledge of microbial community structure in petroleum reservoirs can improve predictive modeling of these environments. We used hydrocarbon profiles, stable isotopes, and high-density DNA microarray analysis to characterize microbial communities in produced water from four Alaskan North Slope hydrocarbon reservoirs. Produced fluids from Schrader Bluff (24-27°C), Kuparuk (47-70°C), Sag River (80°C), and Ivishak (80-83°C) reservoirs were collected, with paired soured/non-soured wells sampled from Kuparuk and Ivishak. Chemical and stable isotope data suggested Schrader Bluff had substantial biogenic methane, whereas methane was mostly thermogenic in deeper reservoirs. Acetoclastic methanogens (Methanosaeta) were most prominent in Schrader Bluff samples, and the combined ?D and ?(13)C values of methane also indicated acetoclastic methanogenesis could be a primary route for biogenic methane. Conversely, hydrogenotrophic methanogens (e.g., Methanobacteriaceae) and sulfide-producing Archaeoglobus and Thermococcus were more prominent in Kuparuk samples. Sulfide-producing microbes were detected in all reservoirs, uncoupled from souring status (e.g., the non-soured Kuparuk samples had higher relative abundances of many sulfate-reducers compared to the soured sample, suggesting sulfate-reducers may be living fermentatively/syntrophically when sulfate is limited). Sulfate abundance via long-term seawater injection resulted in greater relative abundances of Desulfonauticus, Desulfomicrobium, and Desulfuromonas in the soured Ivishak well compared to the non-soured well. In the non-soured Ivishak sample, several taxa affiliated with Thermoanaerobacter and Halomonas predominated. Archaea were not detected in the deepest reservoirs. Functional group taxa differed in relative abundance among reservoirs, likely reflecting differing thermal and/or geochemical influences.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Recent studies have significantly expanded our knowledge of viral diversity and functions in the environment. Exploring the ecological relationships between viruses, hosts, and the environment is a crucial first step towards a deeper understanding of the complex and dynamic interplays among them. RESULTS:Here, we obtained extensive 16S rRNA gene amplicon, metagenomics sequencing, and geochemical datasets from different depths of two highly stratified sulfidic mine tailings cores with steep geochemical gradients especially pH, and explored how variations in viral community composition and functions were coupled to the co-existing prokaryotic assemblages and the varying environmental conditions. Our data showed that many viruses in the mine tailings represented novel genera, based on gene-sharing networks. Siphoviridae, Podoviridae, and Myoviridae dominated the classified viruses in the surface tailings and deeper layers. Both viral richness and normalized coverage increased with depth in the tailings cores and were significantly correlated with geochemical properties, for example, pH. Viral richness was also coupled to prokaryotic richness (Pearson's r = 0.65, P = 0.032). The enrichment of prophages in the surface mine tailings suggested a preference of lysogenic viral lifestyle in more acidic conditions. Community-wide comparative analyses clearly showed that viruses in the surface tailings encoded genes mostly with unknown functions while viruses in the deeper layers contained genes mainly annotated as conventional functions related to metabolism and structure. Notably, significantly abundant assimilatory sulfate reduction genes were identified from the deeper tailings layers and they were widespread in viruses predicted to infect diverse bacterial phyla. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, our results revealed a depth-related distribution of viral populations in the extreme and heterogeneous tailings system. The viruses may interact with diverse hosts and dynamic environmental conditions and likely play a role in the functioning of microbial community and modulate sulfur cycles in situ. Video Abstract.
Project description:The irruption of gas and oil into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon event fed a deep sea bacterial bloom that consumed hydrocarbons in the affected waters, formed a regional oxygen anomaly, and altered the microbiology of the region. In this work, we develop a coupled physical-metabolic model to assess the impact of mixing processes on these deep ocean bacterial communities and their capacity for hydrocarbon and oxygen use. We find that observed biodegradation patterns are well-described by exponential growth of bacteria from seed populations present at low abundance and that current oscillation and mixing processes played a critical role in distributing hydrocarbons and associated bacterial blooms within the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Mixing processes also accelerated hydrocarbon degradation through an autoinoculation effect, where water masses, in which the hydrocarbon irruption had caused blooms, later returned to the spill site with hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria persisting at elevated abundance. Interestingly, although the initial irruption of hydrocarbons fed successive blooms of different bacterial types, subsequent irruptions promoted consistency in the structure of the bacterial community. These results highlight an impact of mixing and circulation processes on biodegradation activity of bacteria during the Deepwater Horizon event and suggest an important role for mixing processes in the microbial ecology of deep ocean environments.
Project description:Stable associations of syntrophic fermentative organisms and populations that consume fermentation products play key roles in the anaerobic biodegradation of chlorinated organic contaminants. The involvement of these syntrophic populations is essential for mineralization of chlorinated aromatic compounds under methanogenic conditions. The fermentative production of low levels of hydrogen (H2) can also be used to selectively deliver a limiting electron donor to dehalogenating organisms and achieve complete dehalogenation of chlorinated aliphatic contaminants such as tetrachloroethene. Thus, tracking the abundance of syntrophically coupled populations should aid in the development and monitoring of sustainable bioremediation strategies. In this study, two complementary nucleic acid-based methods were used to identify and assess relative changes or differences in the abundance of potentially important populations in complex anaerobic microbial communities that mineralized chlorinated aromatic compounds. Population dynamics were related to the consumption and production of key metabolic substrates, intermediates, and products. Syntrophus-like populations were detected in 3-chlorobenzoate-degrading communities derived from sediment or sludge digesters. In the presence of H2-consuming populations, characterized Syntrophus species ferment benzoate, a central intermediate in the anaerobic metabolism of 3-chlorobenzoate and 2-chlorophenol. A DNA probe that targeted characterized Syntrophus species was developed and used to quantify rRNA extracted from the 3-chlorobenzoate- and 2-chlorophenol-degrading communities. The level of rRNA targeted by the Syntrophus-specific probe tracked with the formation of benzoate during metabolism of the parent compounds. Hybridizations with an Archaea-specific probe and/or measurement of methane production demonstrated that methanogens directly benefited from the influx of benzoate-derived electron donors, and the activities of Syntrophus-like and methanogenic populations in the contaminant-degrading communities were closely linked.
Project description:Microbial community composition and diversity at a diesel-contaminated railway site were investigated by pyrosequencing of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA gene fragments to understand the interrelationships among microbial community composition, pollution level, and soil geochemical and physical properties. To this end, 26 soil samples from four matrix types with various geochemical characteristics and contaminant concentrations were investigated. The presence of diesel contamination significantly impacted microbial community composition and diversity, regardless of the soil matrix type. Clean samples showed higher diversity than contaminated samples (P < 0.001). Bacterial phyla with high relative abundances in all samples included Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Chloroflexi. High relative abundances of Archaea, specifically of the phylum Euryarchaeota, were observed in contaminated samples. Redundancy analysis indicated that increased relative abundances of the phyla Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, and Euryarchaeota correlated with the presence of contamination. Shifts in the chemical composition of diesel constituents across the site and the abundance of specific operational taxonomic units (OTUs; defined using a 97% sequence identity threshold) in contaminated samples together suggest that natural attenuation of contamination has occurred. OTUs with sequence similarity to strictly anaerobic Anaerolineae within the Chloroflexi, as well as to Methanosaeta of the phylum Euryarchaeota, were detected. Anaerolineae and Methanosaeta are known to be associated with anaerobic degradation of oil-related compounds; therefore, their presence suggests that natural attenuation has occurred under anoxic conditions. This research underscores the usefulness of next-generation sequencing techniques both to understand the ecological impact of contamination and to identify potential molecular proxies for detection of natural attenuation.
Project description:Biodegradation of crude oil in subsurface petroleum reservoirs has adversely impacted most of the world's oil, converting this resource to heavier forms that are of lower quality and more challenging to recover. Oil degradation in deep reservoir environments has been attributed to methanogenesis over geological time, yet our understanding of the processes and organisms mediating oil transformation in the absence of electron acceptors remains incomplete. Here, we sought to identify hydrocarbon activation mechanisms and reservoir-associated microorganisms that may have helped shape the formation of biodegraded oil by incubating oilfield produced water in the presence of light (°API = 32) or heavy crude oil (°API = 16). Over the course of 17 months, we conducted routine analytical (GC, GC-MS) and molecular (PCR/qPCR of assA and bssA genes, 16S rRNA gene sequencing) surveys to assess microbial community composition and activity changes over time. Over the incubation period, we detected the formation of transient hydrocarbon metabolites indicative of alkane and alkylbenzene addition to fumarate, corresponding with increases in methane production and fumarate addition gene abundance. Chemical and gene-based evidence of hydrocarbon biodegradation under methanogenic conditions was supported by the enrichment of hydrocarbon fermenters known to catalyze fumarate addition reactions (e.g., Desulfotomaculum, Smithella), along with syntrophic bacteria (Syntrophus), methanogenic archaea, and several candidate phyla (e.g., "Atribacteria", "Cloacimonetes"). Our results reveal that fumarate addition is a possible mechanism for catalyzing the methanogenic biodegradation of susceptible saturates and aromatic hydrocarbons in crude oil, and we propose the roles of community members and candidate phyla in our cultures that may be involved in hydrocarbon transformation to methane in crude oil systems.
Project description:This organic-rich shale was analyzed to determine the type, origin, maturity and depositional environment of the organic matter and to evaluate the hydrocarbon generation potential of the shale. This study is based on geochemical (total carbon content, Rock-Eval pyrolysis and the molecular composition of hydrocarbons) and whole-rock petrographic (maceral composition) analyses. The petrographic analyses show that the shale penetrated by the Chaiye 2 well contains large amounts of vitrinite and sapropelinite and that the organic matter within these rocks is type III and highly mature. The geochemical analyses show that these rocks are characterized by high total organic carbon contents and that the organic matter is derived from a mix of terrestrial and marine sources and highly mature. These geochemical characteristics are consistent with the results of the petrographic analyses. The large amounts of organic matter in the Carboniferous shale succession penetrated by the Chaiye 2 well may be due to good preservation under hypersaline lacustrine and anoxic marine conditions. Consequently, the studied shale possesses very good hydrocarbon generation potential because of the presence of large amounts of highly mature type III organic matter.
Project description:Marine hydrocarbon seepage emits oil and gas, including methane ( approximately 30 Tg of CH(4) per year), to the ocean and atmosphere. Sediments from the California margin contain preserved tar, primarily formed through hydrocarbon weathering at the sea surface. We present a record of variation in the abundance of tar in sediments for the past 32,000 years, providing evidence for increases in hydrocarbon emissions before and during Termination IA [16,000 years ago (16 ka) to 14 ka] and again over Termination IB (11-10 ka). Our study provides direct evidence for increased hydrocarbon seepage associated with deglacial warming through tar abundance in marine sediments, independent of previous geochemical proxies. Climate-sensitive gas hydrates may modulate thermogenic hydrocarbon seepage during deglaciation.