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1.  Could petroleum biodegradation be a joint achievement of aerobic and anaerobic microrganisms in deep sea reservoirs? 
AMB Express  2011;1:47.
Several studies suggest that petroleum biodegradation can be achieved by either aerobic or anaerobic microorganisms, depending on oxygen input or other electron acceptors and appropriate nutrients. Evidence from in vitro experiments with samples of petroleum formation water and oils from Pampo Field indicate that petroleum biodegradation is more likely to be a joint achievement of both aerobic and anaerobic bacterial consortium, refining our previous observations of aerobic degradation. The aerobic consortium depleted, in decreasing order, hydrocarbons > hopanes > steranes > tricyclic terpanes while the anaerobic consortium depleted hydrocarbons > steranes > hopanes > tricyclic terpanes. The oxygen content of the mixed consortia was measured from time to time revealing alternating periods of microaerobicity (O2 ~0.8 mg.L-1) and of aerobicity (O2~6.0 mg.L-1). In this experiment, the petroleum biodegradation changed from time to time, alternating periods of biodegradation similar to the aerobic process and periods of biodegradation similar to the anaerobic process. The consortia showed preferences for metabolizing hydrocarbons > hopanes > steranes > tricyclic terpanes during a 90-day period, after which this trend changed and steranes were more biodegraded than hopanes. The analysis of aerobic oil degrading microbiota by the 16S rRNA gene clone library detected the presence of Bacillus, Brevibacterium, Mesorhizobium and Achromobacter, and the analysis of the anaerobic oil degrading microbiota using the same technique detected the presence of Bacillus and Acinetobacter (facultative strains). In the mixed consortia Stenotrophomonas, Brevibacterium, Bacillus, Rhizobium, Achromobacter and 5% uncultured bacteria were detected. This is certainly a new contribution to the study of reservoir biodegradation processes, combining two of the more important accepted hypotheses.
PMCID: PMC3279308  PMID: 22196374
Petroleum biodegradation; oxic environment; anoxic environment; 16S rRNA gene; petroleum biomarkers.
2.  Cultivation-independent methods applied to the microbial prospection of oil and gas in soil from a sedimentary basin in Brazil 
AMB Express  2011;1:35.
The upper parts of oil field structures may leak gas which is supposed to be indirectly detected by the soil bacterial populations. Such microorganisms are capable of consuming this gas, supporting the Microbial Prospection of Oil and Gas (MPOG) methodology. The goal of the present work was to characterize microbial communities involved in short-chain alkane metabolism, namely methane, ethane and propane, in samples from a petroliferous (P) soil through clone libraries of the 16S rRNA gene of the Domains Bacteria and Archaea and the catabolic gene coding for the soluble di-iron monooxygenase (SDIMO) enzyme alpha subunit. The microbial community presented high abundance of the bacterial phylum Actinobacteria, which represented 53% of total clones, and the Crenarchaeota group I.1b from the Archaea Domain. The analysis of the catabolic genes revealed the occurrence of seven Operational Protein Families (OPF) and higher richness (Chao = 7; Ace = 7.5) and diversity (Shannon = 1.09) in P soil when compared with a non-petroliferous (Np) soil (Chao = 2; Ace = 0, Shannon = 0.44). Clones related to the ethene monooxygenase (EtnC) and methane monooxygenase (MmoX) coding genes occurred only in P soil, which also presented higher levels of methane and lower levels of ethane and propane, revealed by short-chain hydrocarbon measures. Real-time PCR results suggested that the SDIMO genes occur in very low abundance in the soil samples under study. Further investigations on SDIMOs genes in natural environments are necessary to unravel their still uncharted diversity and to provide reliable tools for the prospection of degrading populations.
PMCID: PMC3282667  PMID: 22018208
Short-chain hydrocarbons; Microbial prospection; Community structure; Gene libraries; Soluble di-iron monooxygenases

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