Comparison of bacterial community in aqueous and oil phases of water-flooded petroleum reservoirs using pyrosequencing and clone library approaches

Li Ying Wang, Wen Ji Ke, Xiao Bo Sun, Jin Feng Liu, Ji Dong Gu, Bo Zhong Mu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Bacterial communities in both aqueous and oil phases of water-flooded petroleum reservoirs were characterized by molecular analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA genes obtained from Shengli Oil Field using DNA pyrosequencing and gene clone library approaches. Metagenomic DNA was extracted from the aqueous and oil phases and subjected to polymerase chain reaction amplification with primers targeting the bacterial 16S rRNA genes. The analysis by these two methods showed that there was a large difference in bacterial diversity between the aqueous and oil phases of the reservoir fluids, especially in the reservoirs with lower water cut. At a high phylogenetic level, the predominant bacteria detected by these two approaches were identical. However, pyrosequencing allowed the detection of more rare bacterial species than the clone library method. Statistical analysis showed that the diversity of the bacterial community of the aqueous phase was lower than that of the oil phase. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the vast majority of sequences detected in the water phase were from members of the genus Arcobacter within the Epsilonproteobacteria, which is capable of degrading the intermediates of hydrocarbon degradation such as acetate. The oil phase of reservoir fluid samples was dominated by members of the genus Pseudomonas within the Gammaproteobacteria and the genus Sphingomonas within the Alphaproteobacteria, which have the ability to degrade crude oil through adherence to hydrocarbons under aerobic conditions. In addition, many anaerobes that could degrade the component of crude oil were also found in the oil phase of reservoir fluids, mainly in the reservoir with lower water cut. These were represented by Desulfovibrio spp., Thermodesulfovibrio spp., Thermodesulforhabdus spp., Thermotoga spp., and Thermoanaerobacterium spp. This research suggested that simultaneous analysis of DNA extracted from both aqueous and oil phases can facilitate a better understanding of the bacterial communities in water-flooded petroleum reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4209-4221
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aqueous and oil phases
  • Bacterial community
  • Petroleum reservoir
  • Pyrosequencing
  • Water cut


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