Microbial anaerobic alkane degradation is a key process in subsurface oil reservoirs and anoxic environments contaminated with petroleum, with a major impact on global carbon cycling. However, the thermophiles capable of water-insoluble paraffins (>C17) degradation under methanogenic conditions has remained understudied. Here, we established thermophilic (55 °C) n-paraffins-degrading (C21-C30) cultures from an oil reservoir. After over 900 days of incubation, the even-numbered n-paraffins were biodegraded to methane. The bacterial communities are dominated by a novel class-level lineage of actinobacteria, ‘Candidatus Syntraliphaticia'. These ‘Ca. Syntraliphaticia'-like metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) encode a complete alkylsuccinate synthases (ASS) gene operon, as well as hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenase, and several enzymes potentially involved in alkyl-CoA oxidation and the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway. Metatranscriptomic analysis suggests that n-paraffins are activated via fumarate addition reaction, and oxidized into carbon dioxide, hydrogen/formate and acetate by ‘Ca. Syntraliphaticia', that could be further converted to methane by the abundant hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogens. We also found a divergent methyl-CoM reductase-like complex (MCR) and a canonical MCR in two MAGs representing ‘Ca. Methanosuratus' (within candidate phylum Verstraetearchaeota), indicating the capability of methane and short-chain alkane metabolism in the oil reservoir. Ultimately, this result offers new insights into the degradability and the mechanisms of n-paraffins under methanogenic conditions at high temperatures.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Environmental Science & Technology|
|State||Published - 1 Sep 2020|