Open Access Open Badges Original article

Automated DNA extraction platforms offer solutions to challenges of assessing microbial biofouling in oil production facilities

Athenia L Oldham123*, Heather S Drilling12, Blake W Stamps12, Bradley S Stevenson12 and Kathleen E Duncan123

Author Affiliations

1 The Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, University of Oklahoma, 770 Van Vleet Oval GLCH #136, Norman, OK 73019, USA

2 University of Oklahoma Biocorrosion Center, Norman, OK 73019, USA

3 The Institute for Energy and the Environment, University of Oklahoma, 100 E. Boyd Street, Norman, OK, 73019, USA

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AMB Express 2012, 2:60  doi:10.1186/2191-0855-2-60

Published: 20 November 2012


The analysis of microbial assemblages in industrial, marine, and medical systems can inform decisions regarding quality control or mitigation. Modern molecular approaches to detect, characterize, and quantify microorganisms provide rapid and thorough measures unbiased by the need for cultivation. The requirement of timely extraction of high quality nucleic acids for molecular analysis is faced with specific challenges when used to study the influence of microorganisms on oil production. Production facilities are often ill equipped for nucleic acid extraction techniques, making the preservation and transportation of samples off-site a priority. As a potential solution, the possibility of extracting nucleic acids on-site using automated platforms was tested. The performance of two such platforms, the Fujifilm QuickGene-Mini80™ and Promega Maxwell®16 was compared to a widely used manual extraction kit, MOBIO PowerBiofilm™ DNA Isolation Kit, in terms of ease of operation, DNA quality, and microbial community composition. Three pipeline biofilm samples were chosen for these comparisons; two contained crude oil and corrosion products and the third transported seawater. Overall, the two more automated extraction platforms produced higher DNA yields than the manual approach. DNA quality was evaluated for amplification by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and end-point PCR to generate 454 pyrosequencing libraries for 16S rRNA microbial community analysis. Microbial community structure, as assessed by DGGE analysis and pyrosequencing, was comparable among the three extraction methods. Therefore, the use of automated extraction platforms should enhance the feasibility of rapidly evaluating microbial biofouling at remote locations or those with limited resources.

16S rRNA gene; Automated nucleic acid extraction platforms; Microbial biofouling; Bacterial community; Oilfield microbiology