Monday, July 25, 2016

New paper: Metatranscriptome analysis of active microbial communities in produced water samples from the Marcellus Shale

Controlling microbial activity is a primary concern during the management of the large volumes of wastewater (produced water) generated during high-volume hydraulic fracturing. In this study we analyzed the transcriptional activity (metatranscriptomes) of three produced water samples from the Marcellus Shale. The goal of this study was to describe active metabolic pathways of industrial concern for produced water management and reuse, and to improve understanding of produced water microbial activity. Metatranscriptome analysis revealed active biofilm formation, sulfide production, and stress management mechanisms of the produced water microbial communities. Biofilm-formation and sulfate-reduction pathways were identified in all samples. Genes related to a diverse array of stress response mechanisms were also identified with implications for biocide efficacy. Additionally, active expression of a methanogenesis pathway was identified in a sample of produced water collected prior to holding pond storage. The active microbial community identified by metatranscriptome analysis was markedly different than the community composition as identified by 16S rRNA sequencing, highlighting the value of evaluating the active microbial fraction during assessments of produced water biofouling potential and evaluation of biocide application strategies. These results indicate biofouling and corrosive microbial processes are active in produced water and should be taken into consideration while designing produced water reuse strategies.

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