The reverse sample genome probe (RSGP) method, developed for monitoring the microbial community in oil fields with a moderate subsurface temperature, has been improved by (i) isolation of a variety of heterotrophic bacteria and inclusion of their genomes on the oil field master filter and (ii) use of phosphorimaging technology for the rapid quantitation of hybridization signals. The new master filter contains the genomes of 30 sulfate-reducing, 1 sulfide-oxidizing, and 16 heterotrophic bacteria. Most have been identified by partial 16S rRNA sequencing. Use of improved RSGP in monitoring the effect of nitrate injection in an oil field indicated that the sulfide-oxidizing, nitrate-reducing isolate CVO (a Campylobacter sp.) becomes the dominant community component immediately after injection. No significant enhancement of other community members, including the sulfate-reducing bacteria, was observed. The elevated level of CVO decayed at most sampling sites within 30 days after nitrate injection was terminated. Chemical analyses indicated a corresponding decrease and subsequent increase in sulfide concentrations. Thus, transient injection of a higher potential electron acceptor into an anaerobic subsurface system can have desirable effects (i.e., reduction of sulfide levels) without a permanent adverse influence on the resident microbial community.