Crude oil degradation by bacterial consortia under four different redox and temperature conditions

Shunzi Xiong, Xia Li, Jianfa Chen, Liping Zhao, Hui Zhang, Xiaojun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There is emerging interest in the anaerobic degradation of crude oil. However, there is limited knowledge about the geochemical effects and microbiological activities for it. A mixture of anaerobic sludge and the production water from an oil well was used as an inoculum to construct four consortia, which were incubated under sulfate-reducing or methanogenic conditions at either mesophilic or thermophilic temperatures. Significant degradation of saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons and the changing quantities of some marker compounds, such as pristane, phytane, hopane and norhopane, and their relative quantities, suggested the activity of microorganisms in the consortia. Notably, the redox conditions and temperature strongly affected the diversity and structure of the enriched microbial communities and the oil degradation. Although some specific biomarker showed larger change under methanogenic condition, the degradation efficiencies for total aromatic and saturated hydrocarbon were higher under sulfate-reducing condition. After the 540-day incubation, bacteria of unknown classifications were dominant in the thermophilic methanogenic consortia, whereas Clostridium dominated the mesophilic methanogenic consortia. With the exception of the dominant phylotypes that were shared with the methanogenic consortia, the sulfate-reducing consortia were predominantly composed of Thermotogae, Deltaproteobacteria, Spirochaeta, and Synergistetes phyla. In conclusion, results in this study demonstrated that the different groups of degraders were responsible for degradation in the four constructed crude oil degrading consortia and consequently led to the existence of different amount of marker compounds under these distinct conditions. There might be distinct metabolic mechanism for degrading crude oil under sulfate-reducing and methanogenic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1451-1461
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • Bacterial community
  • Bacterial degradation
  • Crude oil
  • Methanogenic
  • Norhopane
  • Sulfate-reducing

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