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Novel DNA Extraction and Preservation on Offshore Facilities using FTA Cards


December 2007


13th Reservoir Microbiology Forum (RMF)

Energy Institute, London, UK


Oral Presentation


Oil Plus Ltd

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Novel DNA Extraction and Preservation on Offshore Facilities using FTA Cards

Traditional microbiological methods based on culturing procedures such as the Most Probable Number (MPN) technique have been used for many years to monitor microbial numbers in oilfield samples. However, such methods are far from ideal as it is estimated that at most than 15% of all microorganisms present in environmental samples are culturable by these methods. In addition, without further extensive procedures being carried out, such methods cannot identify the variety of microorganisms in the sample. Molecular biological methods negate such problems, providing information on all the microorganisms present in an environmental sample. However, traditional molecular biological methods do have their drawbacks, particularly if employed on offshore oil installations. Such problems include microbial population changes occurring in environmental samples on transportation from the installation to the onshore laboratory; additionally, the transportation and use of hazardous chemicals employed in traditional DNA extraction procedures limit the use of these methods on offshore installations.

One new technology extensively tested by oil plus, the Whatman FTA card offers a simple and convenient solution to sample transport and on-site DNA extraction problems. The cards are impregnated with chemicals that lyse the cells and preserve the extracted DNA, thus eliminating the need for hazardous DNA extraction / purification chemicals. Hence, the cards ‘fix’ the DNA onto the card so the microbial population at the point of sampling is preserved, eradicating concerns of changes in microbial populations occurring during sample transport. The presentation will discuss the mode of operation of the FTA technology, trials with the FTA cards on oilfield samples, comparisons with traditional DNA extraction procedures and recent developments with the technology. The talk will conclude with a discussion on challenges still to be faced in the field of oilfield microbiology and new developments that could soon see real-time microbial monitoring in conjunction with the FTA technology on offshore oil facilities.