Impact of nitrate on the structure and function of bacterial biofilm communities in pipelines used for injection of seawater into oil fields

Carsten U. Schwermer, Gaute Lavik, Raeid M M Abed, Braden Dunsmore, Timothy G. Ferdelman, Paul Stoodley, Armin Gieseke, Dirk De Beer

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We studied the impact of NO3- on the bacterial community composition, diversity, and function in in situ industrial, anaerobic biofilms by combining microsensor profiling, 15N and 35S labeling, and 16S rRNA gene-based fingerprinting. Biofilms were grown on carbon steel coupons within a system designed to treat seawater for injection into an oil field for pressurized oil recovery. NO3- was added to the seawater in an attempt to prevent bacterial H2S generation and microbially influenced corrosion in the field. Microprofiling of nitrogen compounds and redox potential inside the biofilms showed that the zone of highest metabolic activity was located close to the metal surface, correlating with a high bacterial abundance in this zone. Upon addition, NO3 - was mainly reduced to NO2-. In biofilms grown in the absence of NO3-, redox potentials of 2+. NO 3- addition to previously untreated biofilms induced a decline (65%) in bacterial species richness, with Methylophaga- and Colwellia-related sequences having the highest number of obtained clones in the clone library. In contrast, no changes in community composition and potential NO3- reduction occurred upon subsequent withdrawal of NO3-. Active sulfate reduction was below detection levels in all biofilms, but S isotope fractionation analysis of sulfide deposits suggested that it must have occurred either at low rates or episodically. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that pitting corrosion occurred on all coupons, independent of the treatment. However, uniform corrosion was clearly mitigated by NO3- addition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2841-2851
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology

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