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In the spotlight

In this column, we place a special micro-organism or microbial process in the spotlight. Why? Because micro-organisms are the most unique organisms among all others. They are present worldwide and are able to survive even the most extreme environments: from deep oceans to hot springs, inside rocky mountains and polluted areas. They are really amazing living creatures and deserve to be placed in the spotlight!

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC)

Corrosion is an electrochemical process leading to the deterioration of materials that can be caused or accelerated by microbiological activity, so called Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC). It is estimated that 30-50% of the corrosion cases are a result of microbial activity. Diagnosing and monitoring the risks for MIC are therefore important to prevent or control the negative consequences caused by MIC.

We apply measuring techniques based on molecular tools (Q-Bioanalyses) that are independent of the ability to culture a micro-organism. This makes the technique superior to, for instance, commonly used BART tests that rely on culturing micro-organisms involved in MIC. Since a lot of micro-organisms are unable to grow under the specific circumstances present in the BART-tests (or aren’t culturable at all!), these tests often give false-negative results and a wrong advice for the client. Instead, every micro-organism and microbial function (e.g. sulfate reduction). involved in MIC can be detected and quantified using our Q-Bioanalyses. This makes the molecular tool efficient and highly reliable! In this issue we place one specific group of micro-organisms in the spotlight, which is often ignored by determination of MIC: the methane producing micro-organisms.

Methane producing micro-organisms (methanogens)

Methanogens are micro-organisms that produce methane and belong to the group of Archaea. They are capable of consuming hydrogen and are therefore responsible for cathodic depolarization. Methanogens and sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) mostly coexist in a symbiotic relation: SRB produce hydrogen, CO2 and acetate and the methanogens consume these components for energy. Therefore, a continuous circle of hydrogen is created, resulting in corrosive areas. Similar to SRB, Methanogens are also commonly found micro-organisms that are highly corrosive. Therefore, the presence of methanogens may cause serious problems as well in MIC.

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