Fracking bugs generate sulfide in deep shale ecosystems

A new paper led by Anne Booker has just been published in mSphere. In the manuscript, Anne describes a series of experiments to demonstrate that Halanaerobium strains – which can dominate hydraulically fractured shale environments – are able to generate sulfide via the reduction of thiosulfate. The work has important implications for the hydraulic fracturing process, where sulfidogenesis is viewed as a deleterious process.

The paper is here

And an accompanying ASM blog post about the work is here

Welcome Ally!

Ally Brady – an OSU undergraduate in the School of Earth Sciences – has joined the Wilkins Lab over the summer as part of the Shell Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at OSU. She’ll be working with some of the microorganisms that have been isolated from hydraulically-fractured deep shale ecosystems. Welcome Ally!

Welcome David!

David Morgan, an OSU graduate via the microbiology program, has joined with Wilkins Lab as a staff researcher. He’ll be working on the interactions between microorganisms that persist in hydraulically-fractured shale ecosystems and a range of biocides. The work is performed in partnership with Dow Microbial Control. Welcome David!

Field work on East River

Casey Saup and colleagues were recently at our East River research site, just outside Crested Butte, CO. Casey is investigating riverbed biogeochemistry (this time, under trying circumstances given the amount of water in the river…). Pictures below.

Casey Saup’s Animas River work published

Casey recently had some of her research on Animas River sediment biogeochemistry published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal : Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts.

Casey’s work followed the release of metal contaminants into the river following the Gold King Mine blowout. She tracked heavy metal release from sediments coupled with the reductive dissolution of iron oxides via direct enzymatic reduction, and indirect via sulfide production.

New lab research published!

Congratulations to Paula from our research group, who just had some research published in Global Change Biology. Her paper describes some of the highest sulfate reduction rates and methane fluxes ever measured in a freshwater ecosystem. Her research was performed in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America, where high dissolved organic carbon concentrations in wetland pore waters likely sustain such high rates of microbial activity.

New research from our lab on dynamic hyporheic biogeochemistry in Colorado River sediments

Recently published – work led by Bob Danczak in the Wilkins Lab investigating how seasonal snowmelt-driven fluctuations in Colorado River discharge drive changing biogeochemical processes in riverbed sediments. Bob was able to use a suite of tools, including hydrologic modeling, geochemical analyses, 16S rRNA gene surveys, and ecological models to probe this system, and uncover a unique microbial community that persists in the zone of groundwater-river water mixing. This riverbed zone plays a critical role in the processing of carbon and metals, and therefore any future changes in river discharge will impact in situ biogeochemical cycling.  The work was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences:

Danczak RE, Sawyer AH, Williams KH, Stegen JC, Hobson C, and Wilkins MJ (2016) Seasonal hyporheic dynamics control coupled microbiology and geochemistry in Colorado River sediments. JGR – Biogeosciences. doi: 10.1002/2016JG003527



New research published on microbial communities in fracking wells

The Wilkins lab was involved in a just-published study tracking microbial populations and metabolisms in hydraulically fractured shales. The work – published yesterday in Nature Microbiology – identified dominant microbial populations that catalyze the conversion of methylamines into methane. While the detection of viable biomass in deep fractured shales may be problematic for the oil and gas industry, the potential for new biogenic methane to be generated could offer a potential mechanism for increasing the longevity of such wells.