Crude oil and gas naturally escape from the seabed in many places known as “seeps”. There, these hydrocarbons move up from source rocks through fractures and sediments towards the surface, where they leak out of the ground and sustain a diversity of densely populated habitats in the dark ocean. A large part of the hydrocarbons, primarily alkanes, is already degraded before it reaches the sediment surface. Even deep down in the sediment, where no oxygen exists, it provides an important energy source for subsurface microorganisms, amongst them some of the so-called archaea.
Now a study led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, and MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, provides environmental information, genomes and first images of a microbe that has the potential to transform long-chain hydrocarbons to methane. Their results are published in the journal mBio.
Dr. Rafael Laso-Pérez
MARUM – Center for MArine Environmental Sciences
and Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Phone: +49 421 2028-876
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
MARUM, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Department of Geosciences, University of Bremen
Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen (Netherlands)
Center for Biotechnology, Bielefeld University
Rafael Laso-Pérez, Cedric Hahn, Daan M. van Vliet, Halina E. Tegetmeyer, Florence Schubotz, Nadine T. Smit, Thomas Pape, Heiko Sahling, Gerhard Bohrmann, Antje Boetius, Katrin Knittel, Gunter Wegener: Anaerobic degradation of non-methane alkanes by Ca. Methanoliparia in hydrocarbon seeps of the Gulf of Mexico. mBio. DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01814-19