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Potential Relationship between Extremophiles and Hydrocarbon Resources in Marine Extreme Environment

WANG Jia-sheng, WANG Yong-biao, LI QingKey Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of Education, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan430074, China  
To understand the potential mechanism of marine extremophiles participating in the formation and the evolution of hydrocarbon resources in marine extreme environments, some typical kinds of extremophiles and their distributions in marine hydrothermal venting and cold venting are discussed and evaluated respectively. The potential relationship between extremophile activities and hydrocarbon resources in marine extreme environments are then discussed in details. It could be now preliminary concluded that archaea and bacteria are the two main kinds of extremophiles in marine extreme environments. The dominating microbial communities in hydrothermal venting are heterotrophic zymogens, sulphate reducers and methanogens, while the ANME-2 group (Methanosarcinales) surrounded by sulfate-reducing bacteria and ANME-1 group are dominated in cold venting. Marine extremophiles would be able to use CH4 and H2S to synthesize energy for metabolism and to support food chains for other unique macrobiota nearby, which together present a high abundance but a low diversity with distinct characteristics of horizontal and vertical distributions. Marine extremophiles might play an important role either directly or indirectly in the processes of hydrocarbon formation and later alteration, and could indicate the evolution of hydrocarbon resources in marine extreme environments. Our research thus has a great significance both in theoretical approach of potential hydrocarbon resources formed by marine extremophile activities and in practical exploration of the potential hydrocarbon source sedimentary layers formed in the earth history or the potential strata in South China.
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