Fluctuations in the availability of electron donor (petroleum hydrocarbons) affected the competition between sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and methanogenic bacteria (MB) for control of electron flow in a petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated aquifer. The data suggest that abundant electron donor availability allowed MB to sequester a portion of the electron flow even when sulfate was present in sufficient concentrations to support sulfate reduction. For example, in an area of abundant electron-donor availability, SRB appeared to be unable to sequester the electron flow from MB in the presence of 1.4 mg/L sulfate. The data also suggest that when electron-donor availability was limited, SRB outcompeted MB for available substrate at a lower concentration of sulfate than when electron donor was plentiful. For example, in an area of limited electron-donor availability, SRB appeared to maintain dominance of electron flow at sulfate concentrations less than 1 mg/L. The presence of abundant electron donor and a limited amount of sulfate reduced competition for available substrate, allowing both SRB and MB to metabolize available substrates concurrently.
Additional publication details
Influence of electron donor on the minimum sulfate concentration required for sulfate reduction in a petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated aquifer