Analysis of alkane-dependent methanogenic community derived from production water of a high-temperature petroleum reservoir

Serge Maurice Mbadinga, Kai Ping Li, Lei Zhou, Li Ying Wang, Shi Zhong Yang, Jin Feng Liu, Ji Dong Gu, Bo Zhong Mu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Microbial assemblage in an n-alkanes-dependent thermophilic methanogenic enrichment cultures derived from production waters of a high-temperature petroleum reservoir was investigated in this study. Substantially higher amounts of methane were generated from the enrichment cultures incubated at 55 °C for 528 days with a mixture of long-chain n-alkanes (C15-C 20). Stoichiometric estimation showed that alkanes-dependent methanogenesis accounted for about 19.8% of the total amount of methane expected. Hydrogen was occasionally detected together with methane in the gas phase of the cultures. Chemical analysis of the liquid cultures resulted only in low concentrations of acetate and formate. Phylogenetic analysis of the enrichment revealed the presence of several bacterial taxa related to Firmicutes, Thermodesulfobiaceae, Thermotogaceae, Nitrospiraceae, Dictyoglomaceae, Candidate division OP8 and others without close cultured representatives, and Archaea predominantly related to uncultured members in the order Archaeoglobales and CO2-reducing methanogens. Screening of genomic DNA retrieved from the alkanesamended enrichment cultures also suggested the presence of new alkylsuccinate synthase alpha-subunit (assA) homologues. These findings suggest the presence of poorly characterized (putative) anaerobic n-alkanes degraders in the thermophilic methanogenic enrichment cultures. Our results indicate that methanogenesis of alkanes under thermophilic condition is likely to proceed via syntrophic acetate and/or formate oxidation linked with hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-542
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alkylsuccinate synthase
  • High-temperature petroleum reservoir
  • Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis
  • Methanogenic degradation of alkanes
  • Microbial community
  • Syntrophic acetate oxidation


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