Bacterial communities associated with production facilities of two newly drilled thermogenic natural gas wells in the Barnett Shale (Texas, USA)

Microb Ecol. 2012 Nov;64(4):942-54. doi: 10.1007/s00248-012-0073-3. Epub 2012 May 24.


We monitored the bacterial communities in the gas-water separator and water storage tank of two newly drilled natural gas wells in the Barnett Shale in north central Texas, using a 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing approach over a period of 6 months. Overall, the communities were composed mainly of moderately halophilic and halotolerant members of the phyla Firmicutes and Proteobacteria (classes Βeta-, Gamma-, and Epsilonproteobacteria) in both wells at all sampling times and locations. Many of the observed lineages were encountered in prior investigations of microbial communities from various fossil fluid formations and production facilities. In all of the samples, multiple H(2)S-producing lineages were encountered; belonging to the sulfate- and sulfur-reducing class Deltaproteobacteria, order Clostridiales, and phylum Synergistetes, as well as the thiosulfate-reducing order Halanaerobiales. The bacterial communities from the separator and tank samples bore little resemblance to the bacterial communities in the drilling mud and hydraulic-fracture waters that were used to drill these wells, suggesting the in situ development of the unique bacterial communities in such well components was in response to the prevalent geochemical conditions present. Conversely, comparison of the bacterial communities on temporal and spatial scales suggested the establishment of a core microbial community in each sampled location. The results provide the first overview of bacterial dynamics and colonization patterns in newly drilled, thermogenic natural gas wells and highlights patterns of spatial and temporal variability observed in bacterial communities in natural gas production facilities.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / methods*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Microbial Consortia*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Natural Gas*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Texas
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water Microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Natural Gas
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Water

Associated data