Magazine article USA TODAY

New Genus of Bacteria Found in Fracking Wells

Magazine article USA TODAY

New Genus of Bacteria Found in Fracking Wells

Article excerpt

Researchers analyzing the genomes of microorganisms living in shale oil and gas wells have found evidence of sustainable ecosystems taking hold there--populated in part by a never-before-seen genus of bacteria they have dubbed Frackibacter--one of the 31 microbial members found living inside two separate fracturing wells.

Even though the wells were hundreds of miles apart and drilled in different types of shale formations, the microbial communities inside them were nearly identical, according to scientists in Nature Microbiology.

Almost all of the microbes they found had been seen elsewhere before, and many likely came from the surface ponds that energy companies draw on to fill the wells, but that was not the case with the Candidatus frackibacter, which may be unique to hydraulic fracturing sites, notes microbiologist Kelly Wrighton.

In biological nomenclature, Candidates indicates that a new organism is being studied for the first time using a genomic approach, not an isolated organism in a lab culture. The researchers chose to name the genus Frackibacter as a play on the word "fracking," shorthand for "hydraulic fracturing. …

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