Genomic and phenotypic insights point to diverse ecological strategies by facultative anaerobes obtained from subsurface coal seams

Silas H. W. Vick, Paul Greenfield, Sasha G. Tetu, David J. Midgley, Ian T. Paulsen

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Abstract

Microbes in subsurface coal seams are responsible for the conversion of the organic matter in coal to methane, resulting in vast reserves of coal seam gas. This process is important from both environmental and economic perspectives as coal seam gas is rapidly becoming a popular fuel source worldwide and is a less carbon intensive fuel than coal. Despite the importance of this process, little is known about the roles of individual bacterial taxa in the microbial communities carrying out this process. Of particular interest is the role of members of the genus Pseudomonas, a typically aerobic taxa which is ubiquitous in coal seam microbial communities worldwide and which has been shown to be abundant at early time points in studies of ecological succession on coal. The current study performed aerobic isolations of coal seam microbial taxa generating ten facultative anaerobic isolates from three coal seam formation waters across eastern Australia. Subsequent genomic sequencing and phenotypic analysis revealed a range of ecological strategies and roles for these facultative anaerobes in biomass recycling, suggesting that this group of organisms is involved in the degradation of accumulated biomass in coal seams, funnelling nutrients back into the microbial communities degrading coal to methane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16186
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2019

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