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Methanogenic crude oil-degrading microbial consortia are not universally abundant in anoxic environments

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Angela SherryORCiD, Dr Russell Grant, Dr Carolyn Aitken, Dr Martin Jones, Bernard Bowler, Professor Stephen Larter, Professor Ian Head, Professor Neil GrayORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Crude oil-amended microcosms were prepared with inocula from eleven anoxic environments (4 river sediments, 3 lake sediments, and 4 sludges from wastewater treatment reactors) to determine their ability to produce methane from the biodegradation of crude oil. Over incubation periods of up to 1150 days, oil-stimulated methanogenesis and concomitant loss of alkanes occurred in microcosms prepared with five of the inocula whereas six of the inocula did not show oil-stimulated methane production. Bacterial and archaeal communities from microcosms exhibiting high levels of oil-stimulated methanogenesis were distinct from communities where methanogenic crude oil degradation was not detected. Successional changes were consistent with the quantitative enrichment of syntrophic hydrocarbon degrading bacteria and methanogens over time. In conclusion, in oil-impacted environments methanogenic crude oil-degrading microbial consortia are present in relatively low abundance and exhibit slow growth, and while they may be ubiquitously distributed they may not be present at sufficiently high abundance to be detected.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sherry S, Grant RJ, Aitken CM, Jones M, Bowler BFJ, Larter SR, Head IM, Gray ND

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation

Year: 2020

Volume: 155

Print publication date: 01/11/2020

Online publication date: 18/09/2020

Acceptance date: 31/08/2020

Date deposited: 16/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0964-8305

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.ibiod.2020.105085


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/E01657X/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)