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Microbial Community Composition in Crude Oils and Asphalts from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Carolyn Aitken, Professor Ian Head


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© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. To identify hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms contributing to the formation of heavy oil we investigated the microbial community composition in different types of crude oils from oil-production facilities and in crude oil and asphalt from different natural seeps from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Crude oils from five out of six production facilities did not contain microorganisms detectable by 16S rRNA gene PCR amplicon sequencing likely reflecting a low microbial abundance in these samples. Crude oil and asphalt from the natural seeps hosted diverse microbial communities. The same phylotypes of uncultivated Deferribacteres and Thermodesulfobacteraceae were predominant community members across crude oils and asphalts from separate geographical locations. Soils surrounding seeps did not contain these phylotypes suggesting that they originate from the subsurface and although they seem commonly detected in hydrocarbon-rich environments their role in hydrocarbon-degradation is unknown. GC-MS analyses showed that mainly aromatic hydrocarbons were present in the crude oil and asphalt and that they were undergoing biodegradation - likely with sulfate and nitrate as terminal oxidants. In agreement, only bssA gene, but not assA gene-carrying microorganisms were detectable in the analyzed sampled. Overall our study identified several abundant uncultivated taxa with likely roles in transformation of nitrate, sulfate and hydrocarbons.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shlimon AG, Mansurbeg H, Othman RS, Gittel A, Aitken CM, Head IM, Finster KW, Kjeldsen KU

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geomicrobiology Journal

Year: 2020

Volume: 37

Issue: 7

Pages: 635-652

Online publication date: 27/04/2020

Acceptance date: 03/04/2020

ISSN (print): 0149-0451

ISSN (electronic): 1521-0529

Publisher: Taylor and Francis Inc.


DOI: 10.1080/01490451.2020.1753131


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