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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diversity and abundance of bacteria in an underground oil-storage cavity

Kazuya Watanabe*, Yumiko Kodama and Nobuo Kaku

Author Affiliations

Marine Biotechnology Institute, 3-75-1 Heita, Kamaishi City, Iwate 026-0001, Japan

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BMC Microbiology 2002, 2:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-2-23

Published: 28 August 2002

Abstract

Background

Microorganisms inhabiting subterranean oil fields have recently attracted much attention. Since intact groundwater can easily be obtained from the bottom of underground oil-storage cavities without contamination by surface water, studies on such oil-storage cavities are expected to provide valuable information to understand microbial ecology of subterranean oil fields.

Results

DNA was extracted from the groundwater obtained from an oil-storage cavity situated at Kuji in Iwate, Japan, and 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) fragments were amplified by PCR using combinations of universal and Bacteria-specific primers. The sequence analysis of 154 clones produced 31 different bacterial sequence types (a unique clone or group of clones with sequence similarity of > 98). Major sequence types were related to Desulfotomaculum, Acetobacterium, Desulfovibrio, Desulfobacula, Zoogloea and Thiomicrospira denitrificans. The abundance in the groundwater of bacterial populations represented by these major sequence types was assessed by quantitative competitive PCR using specific primers, showing that five rDNA types except for that related to Desulfobacula shared significant proportions (more than 1%) of the total bacterial rDNA.

Conclusions

Bacteria inhabiting the oil-storage cavity were unexpectedly diverse. A phylogenetic affiliation of cloned 16S rDNA sequences suggests that bacteria exhibiting different types of energy metabolism coexist in the cavity.