Microbial (per)chlorate reduction is a metabolism that enables particular microorganisms to live under oxygen-free conditions, by“breathing”the rocket fuel perchlorate. Up until now this exotic pathway has only been known from bacteria living at moderate temperatures.
In the current study we identified a phylogenetically diverse group of (per)chlorate-reducing microorganisms, belonging to archaea and bacteria, that thrive up to 100°C. Next to the fundamental value of this research there are industrial drivers for gaining more knowledge on such microorganisms. The detrimental effects of microbial sulfate respiration in petroleum reservoirs (so-called reservoir souring) may for instance be mitigated by the injection of (per)chlorate. This would save costs during production and refining of crude oil. Next to that there are indications that dosing (per)chlorate to oil fields could also lead to increased oil recovery rates (microbial enhanced oil recovery). The beneficial effects of (per)chlorate for the oil recovery business have to be further assessed in upcoming studies.