Methanogenic degradation of n-alkanes is prevalent in n-alkane-impacted anoxic oil reservoirs and oil-polluted sites. However, little is known about the initial activation mechanism of the substrate, especially n-alkanes with a chain length above C16. Here, a methanogenic C16 to C20 n-alkane-degrading enrichment culture was established from production water of a low-temperature oil reservoir. At the end of the incubation (364 days), C16 to C20 (1-methylalkyl)succinates were detected in the n-alkane-amended enrichment culture, suggesting that fumarate addition had occurred in the degradation process. This evidence is supported further by the positive amplification of the assA gene encoding the alpha subunit of alkylsuccinate synthase. A phylogenetic analysis shows these assA amplicons to be affiliated with Smithella and Desulfatibacillum clades. Together with the high abundance of these clades in the bacterial community, these two species are postulated to be the key players in the degradation of C16 to C20 n-alkanes in the present study. Our results provide evidence that long n-alkanes are activated via a fumarate addition mechanism under methanogenic conditions.
- Fumarate addition
- Long n-alkanes