Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 553995
Title Anaerobic Degradation of Non-Methane Alkanes by "Candidatus Methanoliparia" in Hydrocarbon Seeps of the Gulf of Mexico
Author(s) Laso-Pérez, Rafael; Hahn, Cedric; Vliet, Daan M. van; Tegetmeyer, Halina E.; Schubotz, Florence; Smit, Nadine T.; Pape, Thomas; Sahling, Heiko; Bohrmann, Gerhard; Boetius, Antje; Knittel, Katrin; Wegener, Gunter
Source mBio 10 (2019)4. - ISSN 2150-7511
Department(s) MicPhys
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2019
Keyword(s) alkane degradation - archaea - methanogenesis - methyl-coenzyme M reductase - oil seeps

Crude oil and gases in the seabed provide an important energy source for subsurface microorganisms. We investigated the role of archaea in the anaerobic degradation of non-methane alkanes in deep-sea oil seeps from the Gulf of Mexico. We identified microscopically the ethane and short-chain alkane oxidizers "Candidatus Argoarchaeum" and "Candidatus Syntrophoarchaeum" forming consortia with bacteria. Moreover, we found that the sediments contain large numbers of cells from the archaeal clade "Candidatus Methanoliparia," which was previously proposed to perform methanogenic alkane degradation. "Ca. Methanoliparia" occurred abundantly as single cells attached to oil droplets in sediments without apparent bacterial or archaeal partners. Metagenome-assembled genomes of "Ca. Methanoliparia" encode a complete methanogenesis pathway including a canonical methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR) but also a highly divergent MCR related to those of alkane-degrading archaea and pathways for the oxidation of long-chain alkyl units. Its metabolic genomic potential and its global detection in hydrocarbon reservoirs suggest that "Ca. Methanoliparia" is an important methanogenic alkane degrader in subsurface environments, producing methane by alkane disproportionation as a single organism.IMPORTANCE Oil-rich sediments from the Gulf of Mexico were found to contain diverse alkane-degrading groups of archaea. The symbiotic, consortium-forming "Candidatus Argoarchaeum" and "Candidatus Syntrophoarchaeum" are likely responsible for the degradation of ethane and short-chain alkanes, with the help of sulfate-reducing bacteria. "Ca. Methanoliparia" occurs as single cells associated with oil droplets. These archaea encode two phylogenetically different methyl-coenzyme M reductases that may allow this organism to thrive as a methanogen on a substrate of long-chain alkanes. Based on a library survey, we show that "Ca. Methanoliparia" is frequently detected in oil reservoirs and may be a key agent in the transformation of long-chain alkanes to methane. Our findings provide evidence for the important and diverse roles of archaea in alkane-rich marine habitats and support the notion of a significant functional versatility of the methyl coenzyme M reductase.

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