Metabolic capability and in situ activity of microorganisms in an oil reservoir

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PubMed ID: 29304850

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Liu YF, Galzerani DD, Mbadinga SM, Zaramela LS, Gu JD, Mu BZ, Zengler K

Microbiome. Jan 2018. doi: 10.1186/s40168-017-0392-1

COMMENT: Microorganisms have been detected in oil reservoirs, pipelines, and crude oil processing facilities for decades. Their presence has long been associated with their metabolic capability of degrading crude oil hydrocarbons, under both oxic and anoxic conditions. While it is possible to readily determine the abundance of microorganisms in the reservoir and study their activity in the laboratory, it has been challenging to resolve what microbes are actively participating in crude oil degradation in situ and to gain insight into what metabolic pathways they deploy.

In this paper, the authors describe the metabolic potential and in situ activity of microbial communities obtained from an Oil Reservoir by an integrated metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approach. Almost complete genome sequences obtained by differential binning highlight the distinct capability of different community members to degrade hydrocarbons under oxic or anoxic condition. Transcriptomic data delineate active members of the community and give insights that Acinetobacter species completely oxidize alkanes into carbon dioxide with the involvement of oxygen, and Archaeoglobus species mainly ferment alkanes to generate acetate which could be consumed by Methanosaeta species. Furthermore, nutritional requirements based on amino acid and vitamin auxotrophies suggest a complex network of interactions and dependencies among active community members that go beyond classical syntrophic exchanges; this network defines community composition and microbial ecology in oil reservoirs undergoing secondary recovery.

These data expand current knowledge of the metabolic potential and role in hydrocarbon metabolism of individual members of thermophilic microbial communities from an oil reservoir. The study also reveals potential metabolic exchanges based on vitamin and amino acid auxotrophies indicating the presence of complex network of interactions between microbial taxa within the community.


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Javier Velasco