DCO Project Summary

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Project Title
Short‐Chain Hydrocarbon Oxidation by Archaea
Start DateEnd Date
2014-05-01 2014-10-31
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The anaerobic oxidation of shortchain hydrocarbons (methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane) with sulfate as terminal electron acceptor is an important process in the marine subsurface, for example in deep oil and gas reservoirs. Besides the anaerobic oxidation of methane which is mediated by archaea, anaerobic oxidation of C3C5 alkanes is only known for bacteria. Recently we succeeded with the enrichment of butane oxidizing archaea which form aggregates with partner bacteria that they appear to share with anaerobic methanotrophs (ANME). The 16S rRNA gene sequences of these archaea abundantly occur in subsurface seep environments, suggesting an important role of these clades in the environment. A first physiological description has been performed during a six-month Master's project. The aim of the present six-month project is to elucidate the identity, functioning, and physiological limitation of these novel archaea. An in silico analysis of public 16S gene libraries will help to estimate the role of this and closely related archaea (Thermoplasmatales) in shortchain hydrocarbons.


The project will perform physiological and stable isotope probing experiments on the butane oxidizing communities and will perform genome analyses of the involved organisms. The archaeal bacterial interaction will be investigated by stable isotope probing combined with nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). To elucidate the pathways of hydrocarbon oxidation, a metagenomic analysis of this culture will be performed.

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