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

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  • Adris G. Shlimon, Soran University
  • ,
  • Howri Mansurbeg, Soran University, University of Windsor
  • ,
  • Rushdy S. Othman, Soran University
  • ,
  • Antje Gittel
  • ,
  • Carolyn M. Aitken, Newcastle University
  • ,
  • Ian M. Head, Newcastle University
  • ,
  • Kai W. Finster
  • Kasper U. Kjeldsen

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Volume37
Issue7
Pages (from-to)635-652
Number of pages18
ISSN0149-0451
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • 16S rRNA, Asphalt, bacteria, biodegradation, bssA, crude oil, GEN. NOV., NITRATE, FATTY-ACIDS, SP-NOV., BENZYLSUCCINATE SYNTHASE, PETROLEUM BIODEGRADATION, ANAEROBIC OXIDATION, HYDROCARBON DEGRADERS, NORTH-SEA, SULFATE-REDUCING BACTERIA

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