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Research Area: Environment

Novel biocatalysts for innovative oil industrial bioprocesses by bioprospecting of oil reservoir metagenomes

Project Number: 6508
Project Duration: 1. January 2013- 31. December 2015

Project Director: Svein Valla, NTNU

Division Head: Christian Collin-Hansen

This project belongs to VISTA's previous research area Biotechnology

Objective

Oil reservoirs provide extreme environments with physical and chemical conditions often incompatible with life. However, reservoirs with in situ temperatures below ~120 C are populated by surprisingly complex consortia of highly adapted thermophilic microorganisms very likely capable of feeding on different oil components. Reservoirs providing different conditions (temperature, pressure, geochemistry, etc.) can be expected to be populated by very different microbial communities with each their respective specialized metabolic capabilities. Enzymes of the members of consortia in high temperature reservoirs are thermostable, and DNA sequence information and the metagenomic DNA isolated from them are a valuable basis for the identification of novel thermostable biocatalysts by means of bioinformatics and molecular biology methods. Thermostable enzymes withstand higher operation temperatures for extended time periods, and are therefore attractive candidates for an implementation in industrial processes which often are performed at elevated temperature. In the proposed project, we will use dedicated methods for metagenome library generation and functional screening, combined with in silico data mining, to identify genes encoding novel thermostable biocatalysts for the degradation or conversion of undesired oil components like long-chain alkanes (LCAs, wax) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The enzymatic removal of such components from challenging crude oils may contribute to an improvement of oil quality in future bio-based oil refining processes. In addition, basic knowledge about such enzymes may also have an impact on the development of new approaches of Biologically-activated Enhanced Oil Recovery (Bio-EOR).

PhD: Morteza Shojaei Moghadam

E-mail: morteza.s.moghadam@ntnu.no
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