Fe-oxide grain coatings support bacterial Fe-reducing metabolisms in 1.7-2.0 km-deep subsurface quartz arenite sandstone reservoirs of the Illinois Basin (USA)

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Abstract

The Cambrian-age Mt. Simon Sandstone, deeply buried within the Illinois Basin of the midcontinent of North America, contains quartz sand grains ubiquitously encrusted with iron-oxide cements and dissolved ferrous iron in pore-water. Although microbial iron reduction has previously been documented in the deep terrestrial subsurface, the potential for diagenetic mineral cementation to drive microbial activity has not been well studied. In this study, two subsurface formation water samples were collected at 1.72 and 2.02 km, respectively, from the Mt. Simon Sandstone in Decatur, Illinois. Low-diversity microbial communities were detected from both horizons and were dominated by Halanaerobiales of Phylum Firmicutes. Iron-reducing enrichment cultures fed with ferric citrate were successfully established using the formation water. Phylogenetic classification identified the enriched species to be related to Vulcanibacillus from the 1.72 km depth sample, while Orenia dominated the communities at 2.02 km of burial depth. Species-specific quantitative analyses of the enriched organisms in the microbial communities suggest that they are indigenous to the Mt. Simon Sandstone. Optimal iron reduction by the 1.72 km enrichment culture occurred at a temperature of 40oC (range 20 to 60oC) and a salinity of 25 parts per thousand (range 25-75 ppt). This culture also mediated fermentation and nitrate reduction. In contrast, the 2.02 km enrichment culture exclusively utilized hydrogen and pyruvate as the electron donors for iron reduction, tolerated a wider range of salinities (25-200 ppt), and exhibited only minimal nitrate- and sulfate-reduction. In addition, the 2.02 km depth community actively reduces the more crystalline ferric iron minerals goethite and hematite. The results suggest evolutionary adaptation of the autochthonous microbial communities to the Mt. Simon Sandstone and carries potentially important implications for future utilization of this reservoir for CO2 injection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number511
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume5
Issue numberSEP
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Bacterial iron reduction
  • Deep subsurface
  • Microbial communities
  • Mt. Simon sandstone
  • The Illinois Basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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