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Coexistence and competition of sulfate-reducing and methanogenic populations in an anaerobic hexadecane-degrading culture TEXT SIZE: A A A
Background: Over three-fifths of the world's known crude oil cannot be recovered using state-of-the-art techniques, but microbial conversion of petroleum hydrocarbons trapped in oil reservoirs to methane is one promising path to increase the recovery of fossil fuels. The process requires cooperation between syntrophic bacteria and methanogenic archaea, which can be affected by sulfate-reducing prokaryotes (SRPs). However, the effects of sulfate on hydrocarbon degradation and methane production remain elusive, and the microbial communities involved are not well understood.

Results: In this study, a methanogenic hexadecane-degrading enrichment culture was treated with six different concentrations of sulfate ranging from 0.5 to 25 mM. Methane production and maximum specific methane production rate gradually decreased to 44 and 56% with sulfate concentrations up to 25 mM, respectively. There was a significant positive linear correlation between the sulfate reduction/methane production ratio and initial sulfate concentration, which remained constant during the methane production phase. The apparent methanogenesis fractionation factor (a(app)) gradually increased during the methane production phase in each treatment, the aapp for the treatments with lower sulfate (0.5-4 mM) eventually plateaued at similar to 1.047, but that for the treatment with 10-25 mM sulfate only reached similar to 1.029. The relative abundance levels of Smithella and Methanoculleus increased almost in parallel with the increasing sulfate concentrations. Furthermore, the predominant sulfate reducer communities shifted from Desulfo-bacteraceae in the low-sulfate cultures to Desulfomonile in the high-sulfate cultures.

Conclusion: The distribution of hexadecane carbon between methane-producing and sulfate-reducing populations is dependent on the initial sulfate added, and not affected during the methane production period. There was a relative increase in hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis activity over time for all sulfate treatments, whereas the total activity was inhibited by sulfate addition. Both Smithella and Methanoculleus, the key alkane degraders and methane producers, can adapt to sulfate stress. Specifically, different SRP populations were stimulated at various sulfate concentrations. These results could help to evaluate interactions between sulfate-reducing and methanogenic populations during anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation in oil reservoirs.

Publication name

 BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS, 10 10.1186/s13068-017-0895-9 SEP 5 2017


 Ma, Ting-Ting; Liu, Lai-Yan; Rui, Jun-Peng; Yuan, Quan; Feng, Ding-Shan; Zhou, Zheng; Dai, Li-Rong; Zeng, Wan-Qiu; Zhang, Hui; Cheng, Lei

Corresponding author(s) 

 CHEN Lei 
 Minist Agr, Biogas Inst, Key Lab Dev & Applicat Rural Renewable Energy, Sect 4-13,Renmin South Rd, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan, Peoples R China.

Author(s) from IGCAS   YUAN Quan

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