Anaerolineaceae and Methanosaeta turned to be the dominant microorganisms in alkanes-dependent methanogenic culture after long-term of incubation

Bo Liang, Li Ying Wang, Serge Maurice Mbadinga, Jin Feng Liu, Shi Zhong Yang, Ji Dong Gu, Bo Zhong Mu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


The methanogenic alkanes-degrading enrichment culture which had been incubated for over 1,300 days amended with n-alkanes (C15–C20) was investigated through clone libraries of bacteria, archaea and assA, mcrA functional genes. These enrichment cultures were obtained from oily sludge after an initial incubation of the oily sludge without any carbon source and then an enrichment transfer with n-alkanes (C15–C20) for acclimation. Activation of alkanes, methane precursor generation and methanogenic pathways are considered as three pivotal stages for the continuous methanogenesis from degradation of alkanes. The presence of functional genes encoding the alkylsuccinate synthase α-subunit indicated that fumarate addition is most likely the one of initial activation step for degradation of n-alkanes. Degradation intermediates of n-alkanes were octadecanoate, hexadecanoate, butyrate, isobutyrate, acetate and propionate, which could provide the appropriate substrates for acetate formation. Both methyl coenzyme M reductase gene and 16S rRNA gene analysis showed that microorganisms of Methanoseata were the most dominant methanogens, capable of using acetate as the electron donor to produce methane. Bacterial clone libraries showed organisms of Anaerolineaceae (within the phylum of Chloroflexi) were predominant (45.5%), indicating syntrophically cooperation with Methanosaeta archaea was likely involved in the process of methanogenic degradation of alkanes. Alkanes may initially be activated via fumarate addition and degraded to fatty acids, then converted to acetate, which was further converted to methane and carbon dioxide by methanogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
JournalAMB Express
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Alkanes degradation
  • Anaerolineaceae
  • Methanogenesis
  • Methanosaeta
  • Microbial community


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