Activity and Diversity of Methanogens in a Petroleum Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Aquifer Article (Web of Science)


  • ABSTRACT Methanogenic activity was investigated in a petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated aquifer by using a series of four push-pull tests with acetate, formate, H 2 plus CO 2 , or methanol to target different groups of methanogenic Archaea . Furthermore, the community composition of methanogens in water and aquifer material was explored by molecular analyses, i.e., fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA genes amplified with the Archaea -specific primer set ARCH915 and UNI-b-rev, and sequencing of DNA from dominant DGGE bands. Molecular analyses were subsequently compared with push-pull test data. Methane was produced in all tests except for a separate test where 2-bromoethanesulfonate, a specific inhibitor of methanogens, was added. Substrate consumption rates were 0.11 mM day −1 for methanol, 0.38 mM day −1 for acetate, 0.90 mM day −1 for H 2 , and 1.85 mM day −1 for formate. Substrate consumption and CH 4 production during all tests suggested that at least three different physiologic types of methanogens were present: H 2 plus CO 2 or formate, acetate, and methanol utilizers. The presence of 15 to 20 bands in DGGE profiles indicated a diverse archaeal population. High H 2 and formate consumption rates agreed with a high diversity of methanogenic Archaea consuming these substrates (16S rRNA gene sequences related to several members of the Methanomicrobiaceae ) and the detection of Methanomicrobiaceae by using FISH (1.4% of total DAPI [4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole]-stained microorganisms in one water sample; probe MG1200). Considerable acetate consumption agreed with the presence of sequences related to the obligate acetate degrader Methanosaeata concilii and the detection of this species by FISH (5 to 22% of total microorganisms; probe Rotcl1). The results suggest that both aceticlastic and CO 2 -type substrate-consuming methanogens are likely involved in the terminal step of hydrocarbon degradation, while methanogenesis from methanol plays a minor role. DGGE profiles further indicate similar archaeal community compositions in water and aquifer material. The combination of hydrogeological and molecular methods employed in this study provide improved information on the community and the potential activity of methanogens in a petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated aquifer.


  • Kleikemper, Jutta
  • Pombo, Silvina A.
  • Schroth, Martin H.
  • Sigler, William
  • Pesaro, Manuel
  • Zeyer, Josef

publication date

  • 2005

number of pages

  • 9

start page

  • 149

end page

  • 158


  • 71


  • 1