Involvement of thermophilic archaea in the biocorrosion of oil pipelines

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SummaryTwo thermophilic archaea, strain PK and strain MG, were isolated from a culture enriched at 80°C from the inner surface material of a hot oil pipeline. Strain PK could ferment complex organic nitrogen sources (e.g. yeast extract, peptone, tryptone) and was able to reduce elemental sulfur (S°), Fe3+ and Mn4+. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the organism belonged to the orderThermococcales. Incubations of this strain with elemental iron (Fe°) resulted in the abiotic formation of ferrous iron and the accumulation of volatile fatty acids during yeast extract fermentation. The other isolate, strain MG, was a H2:CO2-utilizing methanogen, phylogenetically affiliated with the genusMethanothermobacterfamily. Co-cultures of the strains grew as aggregates that produced CH4 without exogenous H2 amendment. The co-culture produced the same suite but greater concentrations of fatty acids from yeast extract than did strain PK alone. Thus, the physiological characteristics of organisms both alone and in combination could conceivably contribute to pipeline corrosion. TheThermococcusstrain PK could reduce elemental sulfur to sulfide, produce fatty acids and reduce ferric iron. The hydrogenotrophic methanogen strain MG enhanced fatty acid production by fermentative organisms but could not couple the dissolution Fe° with the consumption of water-derived H2 like other methanogens.

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