Anaerobic Degradation of Non-Methane Alkanes by “ Candidatus Methanoliparia” in Hydrocarbon Seeps of the Gulf of Mexico

Laso-Pérez et al. (2019). mBio 10 (4)
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Microbiology Virology
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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