Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Biogeosciences, 10, 2041–2048, 2013
Biogeosciences, 10, 2041–2048, 2013

Research article 25 Mar 2013

Research article | 25 Mar 2013

Diversity and abundance of n-alkane-degrading bacteria in the near-surface soils of a Chinese onshore oil and gas field

K. Xu1,2, Y. Tang2, C. Ren2, K. Zhao2, and Y. Sun1 K. Xu et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
  • 2Wuxi Research Institute of Petroleum Geology, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration & Production, SINOPEC, Wuxi, Jiangsu 214151, China

Abstract. Alkane-degrading bacteria have long been used as an important biological indicator for oil and gas prospecting, but their ecological characteristics in hydrocarbon microseep habitats are still poorly understood. In this study, the diversity and abundance of n-alkane-degrading bacterial community in the near-surface soils of a Chinese onshore oil and gas field were investigated using molecular techniques. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analyses in combination with cloning and sequencing of alkB genes revealed that Gram-negative genotypes (Alcanivorax and Acinetobacter) dominated n-alkane-degrading bacterial communities in the near-surface soils of oil and gas reservoirs, while the dominant microbial communities were Gram-positive bacteria (Mycobacterium and Rhodococcus) in background soil. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results furthermore showed that the abundance of alkB genes increased substantially in the surface soils above oil and gas reservoirs even though only low or undetectable concentrations of hydrocarbons were measured in these soils. The results of this study implicate that trace amounts of volatile hydrocarbons migrate from oil and gas reservoirs, and likely result in the changes of microbial communities in the near-surface soil.

Final-revised paper