The ecology of hydrocarbon degradation by microbial populations in the natural environment is reviewed, emphasizing the physical, chemical, and biological factors that contribute to the biodegradation of petroleum and individual hydrocarbons. Rates of biodegradation depend greatly on the composition, state, and concentration of the oil or hydrocarbons, with dispersion and emulsification enhancing rates in aquatic systems and absorption by soil particulates being the key feature of terrestrial ecosystems. Temperature and oxygen and nutrient concentrations are important variables in both types of environments. Salinity and pressure may also affect biodegradation rates in some aquatic environments, and moisture and pH may limit biodegradation in soils. Hydrocarbons are degraded primarily by bacteria and fungi. Adaptation by prior exposure of microbial communities to hydrocarbons increases hydrocarbon degradation rates. Adaptation is brought about by selective enrichment of hydrocarbon-utilizing microorganisms and amplification of the pool of hydrocarbon-catabolizing genes. The latter phenomenon can now be monitored through the use of DNA probes. Increases in plasmid frequency may also be associated with genetic adaptation. Seeding to accelerate rates of biodegradation has been shown to be effective in some cases, particularly when used under controlled conditions, such as in fermentors or chemostats.
Marine subsurface environments such as deep-sea sediments, house abundant and diverse microbial communities that are believed to influence large-scale geochemical processes. These processes include the biotransformation and mineralization of numerous petroleum constituents. Thus, microbial communities in the Gulf of Mexico are thought to be responsible for the intrinsic bioremediation of crude oil released by the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. While hydrocarbon contamination is known to enrich for aerobic, oil-degrading bacteria in deep-seawater habitats, relatively little is known about the response of communities in deep-sea sediments, where low oxygen levels may hinder such a response. Here, we examined the hypothesis that increased hydrocarbon exposure results in an altered sediment microbial community structure that reflects the prospects for oil biodegradation under the prevailing conditions. We explore this hypothesis using metagenomic analysis and metabolite profiling of deep-sea sediment samples following the DWH oil spill. The presence of aerobic microbial communities and associated functional genes was consistent among all samples, whereas, a greater number of Deltaproteobacteria and anaerobic functional genes were found in sediments closest to the DWH blowout site. Metabolite profiling also revealed a greater number of putative metabolites in sediments surrounding the blowout zone relative to a background site located 127 km away. The mass spectral analysis of the putative metabolites revealed that alkylsuccinates remained below detection levels, but a homologous series of benzylsuccinates (with carbon chain lengths from 5 to 10) could be detected. Our findings suggest that increased exposure to hydrocarbons enriches for Deltaproteobacteria, which are known to be capable of anaerobic hydrocarbon metabolism. We also provide evidence for an active microbial community metabolizing aromatic hydrocarbons in deep-sea sediments of the Gulf of Mexico.
Deepwater Horizon; metagenomics; metabolomics; oil-degradation
The widespread problem caused due to petroleum products, is their discharge and accidental spillage in marine environment
proving to be hazardous to the surroundings as well as life forms. Thus remediation of these hydrocarbons by natural
decontamination process is of utmost importance. Bioremediation is a non-invasive and cost effective technique for the clean-up of
these petroleum hydrocarbons. In this study we have investigated the ability of microorganisms present in the sediment sample to
degrade these hydrocarbons, crude oil in particular, so that contaminated soils and water can be treated using microbes. Sediments
samples were collected once in a month for a period of twelve months from area surrounding Ennore creek and screened for
hydrocarbon degrading bacteria. Of the 113 crude oil degrading isolates 15 isolates were selected and cultivated in BH media with
1% crude oil as a sole carbon and energy source. 3 efficient crude oil bacterial isolates Bacillus subtilis I1, Pseudomonas aeruginosa I5
and Pseudomonas putida I8 were identified both biochemically and phylogenetically. The quantitative analysis of biodegradation is
carried out gravimetrically and highest degradation rate, 55% was recorded by Pseudomonas aeruginosa I5 isolate.
Recent advances in molecular biology have extended our understanding of the metabolic processes related to microbial transformation of petroleum hydrocarbons. The physiological responses of microorganisms to the presence of hydrocarbons, including cell surface alterations and adaptive mechanisms for uptake and efflux of these substrates, have been characterized. New molecular techniques have enhanced our ability to investigate the dynamics of microbial communities in petroleum-impacted ecosystems. By establishing conditions which maximize rates and extents of microbial growth, hydrocarbon access, and transformation, highly accelerated and bioreactor-based petroleum waste degradation processes have been implemented. Biofilters capable of removing and biodegrading volatile petroleum contaminants in air streams with short substrate-microbe contact times (<60 s) are being used effectively. Microbes are being injected into partially spent petroleum reservoirs to enhance oil recovery. However, these microbial processes have not exhibited consistent and effective performance, primarily because of our inability to control conditions in the subsurface environment. Microbes may be exploited to break stable oilfield emulsions to produce pipeline quality oil. There is interest in replacing physical oil desulfurization processes with biodesulfurization methods through promotion of selective sulfur removal without degradation of associated carbon moieties. However, since microbes require an environment containing some water, a two-phase oil-water system must be established to optimize contact between the microbes and the hydrocarbon, and such an emulsion is not easily created with viscous crude oil. This challenge may be circumvented by application of the technology to more refined gasoline and diesel substrates, where aqueous-hydrocarbon emulsions are more easily generated. Molecular approaches are being used to broaden the substrate specificity and increase the rates and extents of desulfurization. Bacterial processes are being commercialized for removal of H2S and sulfoxides from petrochemical waste streams. Microbes also have potential for use in removal of nitrogen from crude oil leading to reduced nitric oxide emissions provided that technical problems similar to those experienced in biodesulfurization can be solved. Enzymes are being exploited to produce added-value products from petroleum substrates, and bacterial biosensors are being used to analyze petroleum-contaminated environments.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the deepest and largest offshore spill in the United State history and its impacts on marine ecosystems are largely unknown. Here, we showed that the microbial community functional composition and structure were dramatically altered in a deep-sea oil plume resulting from the spill. A variety of metabolic genes involved in both aerobic and anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation were highly enriched in the plume compared with outside the plume, indicating a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation or natural attenuation in the deep sea. Various other microbial functional genes that are relevant to carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and iron cycling, metal resistance and bacteriophage replication were also enriched in the plume. Together, these results suggest that the indigenous marine microbial communities could have a significant role in biodegradation of oil spills in deep-sea environments.
oil spill; deep-sea plume; microbial community; metagenomics; functional gene arrays; GeoChip
To identify the bacteria that play a major role in the aerobic degradation of petroleum polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a marine environment, bacteria were enriched from seawater by using 2-methylnaphthalene, phenanthrene, or anthracene as a carbon and energy source. We found that members of the genus Cycloclasticus became predominant in the enrichment cultures. The Cycloclasticus strains isolated in this study could grow on crude oil and degraded PAH components of crude oil, including unsubstituted and substituted naphthalenes, dibenzothiophenes, phenanthrenes, and fluorenes. To deduce the role of Cycloclasticus strains in a coastal zone oil spill, propagation of this bacterial group on oil-coated grains of gravel immersed in seawater was investigated in beach-simulating tanks that were 1 m wide by 1.5 m long by 1 m high. The tanks were two-thirds filled with gravel, and seawater was continuously introduced into the tanks; the water level was varied between 30 cm above and 30 cm below the surface of the gravel layer to simulate a 12-h tidal cycle. The number of Cycloclasticus cells associated with the grains was on the order of 103 cells/g of grains before crude oil was added to the tanks and increased to 3 × 106 cells/g of grains after crude oil was added. The number increased further after 14 days to 108 cells/g of grains when nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers were added, while the number remained 3 × 106 cells/g of grains when no fertilizers were added. PAH degradation proceeded parallel with the growth of Cycloclasticus cells on the surfaces of the oil-polluted grains of gravel. These observations suggest that bacteria belonging to the genus Cycloclasticus play an important role in the degradation of petroleum PAHs in a marine environment.
Mudflats and salt marshes are habitats at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial systems that provide valuable services to ecosystems. Therefore, it is important to determine how catastrophic incidents, such as oil spills, influence the microbial communities in sediment that are pivotal to the function of the ecosystem and to identify the oil-degrading microbes that mitigate damage to the ecosystem. In this study, an oil spill was simulated by use of a tidal chamber containing intact diatom-dominated sediment cores from a temperate mudflat. Changes in the composition of bacteria and diatoms from both the sediment and tidal biofilms that had detached from the sediment surface were monitored as a function of hydrocarbon removal. The hydrocarbon concentration in the upper 1.5 cm of sediments decreased by 78% over 21 days, with at least 60% being attributed to biodegradation. Most phylotypes were minimally perturbed by the addition of oil, but at day 21, there was a 10-fold increase in the amount of cyanobacteria in the oiled sediment. Throughout the experiment, phylotypes associated with the aerobic degradation of hydrocarbons, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (Cycloclasticus) and alkanes (Alcanivorax, Oleibacter, and Oceanospirillales strain ME113), substantively increased in oiled mesocosms, collectively representing 2% of the pyrosequences in the oiled sediments at day 21. Tidal biofilms from oiled cores at day 22, however, consisted mostly of phylotypes related to Alcanivorax borkumensis (49% of clones), Oceanospirillales strain ME113 (11% of clones), and diatoms (14% of clones). Thus, aerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation is most likely to be the main mechanism of attenuation of crude oil in the early weeks of an oil spill, with tidal biofilms representing zones of high hydrocarbon-degrading activity.
Rhizoremediation is a complex type of green clean-up technology that involves both plants and the rhizosphere-associated microorganisms to decompose hazardous compounds. The success of the strategy strongly depends on plant tolerance towards the pollutant, as well as plant's interactions with the rhizospheric microbes. The microorganisms may be stimulated by the secreted root exudates, which results in an increased breakdown of contaminants in the rhizosphere. The main goal of this study was to establish a potential rhizoremediation combination for a diesel-polluted site. Inoculation of plant roots or seeds with indigenous rhizospheric populations is a common approach in the rhizoremediation. However, we introduced hydrocarbon-degrading consortia (M10, R3, and K52) that were previously isolated from crude oil-contaminated soil instead of indigenous microbes. Bioaugmentation with these petroleum degraders was applied to screen four high biomass crop species (Indian mustard, alfalfa, high erucic acid rapeseed, HEAR, and low erucic acid rapeseed, LEAR) for their tolerance towards diesel oil. At no pollution, a promoting effect of M10 bacteria could be observed on germination and root elongation of all plant species. Moreover, M10 consortiums increased the germination index at 6,000 mg diesel oil per kilogram dry soil in the case of Indian mustard, alfalfa, and HEAR. The latter species was found to increment its dry weight upon bioaugmentation with M10 bacteria and all diesel oil treatments (6,000 and 24,000 mg diesel oil per kilogram dry soil). The initial results indicate HEAR and the M10 bacterial consortium as a promising plant–microbe tandem for a long-term rhizoremediation process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11270-013-1676-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Bioaugmentation; Petroleum degraders; Petroleum hydrocarbons; Petroleum phytotoxicity; Rhizoremediation
Coastal salt marshes are highly sensitive wetland ecosystems that can sustain long-term impacts from anthropogenic events such as oil spills. In this study, we examined the microbial communities of a Gulf of Mexico coastal salt marsh during and after the influx of petroleum hydrocarbons following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Total hydrocarbon concentrations in salt marsh sediments were highest in June and July 2010 and decreased in September 2010. Coupled PhyloChip and GeoChip microarray analyses demonstrated that the microbial community structure and function of the extant salt marsh hydrocarbon-degrading microbial populations changed significantly during the study. The relative richness and abundance of phyla containing previously described hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria (Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria) increased in hydrocarbon-contaminated sediments and then decreased once hydrocarbons were below detection. Firmicutes, however, continued to increase in relative richness and abundance after hydrocarbon concentrations were below detection. Functional genes involved in hydrocarbon degradation were enriched in hydrocarbon-contaminated sediments then declined significantly (p<0.05) once hydrocarbon concentrations decreased. A greater decrease in hydrocarbon concentrations among marsh grass sediments compared to inlet sediments (lacking marsh grass) suggests that the marsh rhizosphere microbial communities could also be contributing to hydrocarbon degradation. The results of this study provide a comprehensive view of microbial community structural and functional dynamics within perturbed salt marsh ecosystems.
Oily wastewater generated by various industries creates a major ecological problem throughout the world. The traditional methods for the oily wastewater treatment are inefficient and costly. Surfactants can promote the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons by dispersing oil into aqueous environment. In the present study, we applied rhamnolipid-containing cell-free culture broth to enhance the biodegradation of crude oil and lubricating oil in a conventional aerobically-activated sludge system. At 20 °C, rhamnolipids (11.2 mg/L) increased the removal efficiency of crude oil from 17.7% (in the absence of rhamnolipids) to 63%. At 25 °C, the removal efficiency of crude oil was over 80% with the presence of rhamnolipids compared with 22.3% in the absence of rhamnolipids. Similarly, rhamnolipid treatment (22.5 mg/L) for 24 h at 20 °C significantly increased the removal rate of lubricating oil to 92% compared with 24% in the absence of rhamnolipids. The enhanced removal of hydrocarbons was mainly attributed to the improved solubility and the reduced interfacial tension by rhamnolipids. We conclude that a direct application of the crude rhamnolipid solution from cell culture is effective and economic in removing oily contaminants from wastewater.
Oily wastewater; Rhamnolipid; Aerated active sludge system; Biodegradation
The potential biodegradation of crude oil was assessed based on the development of a fermentative process with a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa which produced 15.4 g/L rhamnolipids when cultured in a basal mineral medium using glycerol as a sole carbon source. However, neither cell growth nor rhamnolipid production was observed in the comparative culture system using crude oil as the sole carbon source instead. As rhamnolipid, an effective biosurfactant, has been reported to stimulate the biodegradation of hydrocarbons, 1 g/L glycerol or 0.22 g/L rhamnolipid was initially added into the medium to facilitate the biodegradation of crude oil. In both situations, more than 58% of crude oil was degraded and further converted into accumulated cell biomass and rhamnolipids. These results suggest that Pseudomonas aeruginosa could degrade most of crude oil with direct or indirect addition of rhamnolipid. And this conclusion was further supported by another adsorption experiment, where the adsorption capacity of crude oil by killed cell biomass was negligible in comparison with the biologic activities of live cell biomass.
Rhamnolipid; Crude oil; Biodegradation; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
[14C]hydrocarbons were utilized as a means of estimating the hydrocarbon-degrading potential of bacteria in estuarine and marine environments. Evaporation of the hydrocarbons must be considered in estimates of oxidation. Amount of mineralization of [14C]hexadecane can be equated with the total number of petroleum-degrading bacteria and the percentage of the total heterotrophic population, which they represent. Mineralization activity was found to be related to the activity of the bacterial populations during in situ incubation. Rates of mineralization were observed, as follows, for [14C]hexadecane greater than [14C]naphthalene greater than [14C]toluene greater than [14C]cyclohexane. Increased rates of uptake and mineralization were observed for bacteria in samples collected from an oil-polluted harbor compared with samples from a relatively unpolluted, shellfish-harvesting area, e.g., turnover times of 15 and 60 min for these areas, respectively, using [14C]hexadecane.
Bioremediation is defined as the act of adding or improving the availability of materials (e.g., nutrients, microorganisms, or oxygen) to contaminated environments to cause an acceleration of natural biodegradative processes. The results of field experiments and trials following actual spill incidents have been reviewed to evaluate the feasibility of this approach as a treatment for oil contamination in the marine environment. The ubiquity of oil-degrading microorganisms in the marine environment is well established, and research has demonstrated the capability of the indigenous microflora to degrade many components of petroleum shortly after exposure. Studies have identified numerous factors which affect the natural biodegradation rates of oil, such as the origin and concentration of oil, the availability of oil-degrading microorganisms, nutrient concentrations, oxygen levels, climatic conditions, and sediment characteristics. Bioremediation strategies based on the application of fertilizers have been shown to stimulate the biodegradation rates of oil in aerobic intertidal sediments such as sand and cobble. The ratio of oil loading to nitrogen concentration within the interstitial water has been identified to be the principal controlling factor influencing the success of this bioremediation strategy. However, the need for the seeding of natural environments with hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria has not been clearly demonstrated under natural environmental conditions. It is suggested that bioremediation should now take its place among the many techniques available for the treatment of oil spills, although there is still a clear need to set operational limits for its use. On the basis of the available evidence, we have proposed preliminary operational guidelines for bioremediation on shoreline environments.
The Deepwater Horizon spill released over 4.1 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In an effort to mitigate large oil slicks, the dispersant Corexit 9500 was sprayed onto surface slicks and injected directly at the wellhead at water depth of 1,500 m. Several research groups were involved in investigating the fate of the MC-252 oil using newly advanced molecular tools to elucidate microbial interactions with oil, gases, and dispersant. Microbial community analysis by different research groups revealed that hydrocarbon degrading bacteria belonging to Oceanospirillales, Colwellia, Cycloclasticus, Rhodobacterales, Pseudoalteromonas, and methylotrophs were found enriched in the contaminated water column. Presented here is a comprehensive overview of the ecogenomics of microbial degradation of MC-252 oil and gases in the water column and shorelines. We also present some insight into the fate of the dispersant Corexit 9500 that was added to aid in oil dispersion process. Our results show the dispersant was not toxic to the indigenous microbes at concentrations added, and different bacterial species isolated in the aftermath of the spill were able to degrade the various components of Corexit 9500 that included hydrocarbons, glycols, and dioctyl sulfosuccinate.
MC-252; oil; biodegradation; Corexit 9500; hydrocarbon; dispersant; Gulf of Mexico
Alkanes comprise a substantial fraction of crude oil and refined fuels. As such, they are prevalent within deep subsurface fossil fuel deposits and in shallow subsurface environments such as aquifers that are contaminated with hydrocarbons. These environments are typically anaerobic, and host diverse microbial communities that can potentially use alkanes as substrates. Anaerobic alkane biodegradation has been reported to occur under nitrate-reducing, sulfate-reducing, and methanogenic conditions. Elucidating the pathways of anaerobic alkane metabolism has been of interest in order to understand how microbes can be used to remediate contaminated sites. Alkane activation primarily occurs by addition to fumarate, yielding alkylsuccinates, unique anaerobic metabolites that can be used to indicate in situ anaerobic alkane metabolism. These metabolites have been detected in hydrocarbon-contaminated shallow aquifers, offering strong evidence for intrinsic anaerobic bioremediation. Recently, studies have also revealed that alkylsuccinates are present in oil and coal seam production waters, indicating that anaerobic microbial communities can utilize alkanes in these deeper subsurface environments. In many crude oil reservoirs, the in situ anaerobic metabolism of hydrocarbons such as alkanes may be contributing to modern-day detrimental effects such as oilfield souring, or may lead to more beneficial technologies such as enhanced energy recovery from mature oilfields. In this review, we briefly describe the key metabolic pathways for anaerobic alkane (including n-alkanes, isoalkanes, and cyclic alkanes) metabolism and highlight several field reports wherein alkylsuccinates have provided evidence for anaerobic in situ alkane metabolism in shallow and deep subsurface environments.
anaerobic; metabolites; alkylsuccinates; alkanes; subsurface
The biodegradation of hydrocarbon pollutants in open systems is limited by the availability of a utilizable nitrogen source. This limitation can be overcome by using uric acid. Enrichment cultures grown on crude oil-uric acid media yielded mixed and pure cultures that degraded petroleum. In a simulated open system, uric acid bound to crude oil and was available for bacterial growth and petroleum biodegradation.
The enrichment of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria and the persistence of petroleum hydrocarbons on an estuarine beach after a spill of residual fuel oil on 11 April 1973 in Upper Narragansett Bay, R. I. was investigated. A rapid enrichment occurred during days 4 to 16 after the oil spill and a significant population of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria was maintained in the beach sand for at least a year. The concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons in the mid tide area declined rapidly during the bacterial enrichment period, remained fairly constant throughout the summer, and then declined to a low concentration after 1 year. An increased concentration of branched and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons in the low-tide sediment 128 days after the spill suggested a migration of hydrocarbons during the summer. Hydrocarbon biodegradation was apparent during the winter months at a rate of less than 1 μg of hydrocarbon per g of dry sediment per day.
A significant portion of oil from the recent Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was transported to the shoreline, where it may have severe ecological and economic consequences. The objectives of this study were (i) to identify and characterize predominant oil-degrading taxa that may be used as model hydrocarbon degraders or as microbial indicators of contamination and (ii) to characterize the in situ response of indigenous bacterial communities to oil contamination in beach ecosystems. This study was conducted at municipal Pensacola Beach, FL, where chemical analysis revealed weathered oil petroleum hydrocarbon (C8 to C40) concentrations ranging from 3.1 to 4,500 mg kg−1 in beach sands. A total of 24 bacterial strains from 14 genera were isolated from oiled beach sands and confirmed as oil-degrading microorganisms. Isolated bacterial strains were primarily Gammaproteobacteria, including representatives of genera with known oil degraders (Alcanivorax, Marinobacter, Pseudomonas, and Acinetobacter). Sequence libraries generated from oiled sands revealed phylotypes that showed high sequence identity (up to 99%) to rRNA gene sequences from the oil-degrading bacterial isolates. The abundance of bacterial SSU rRNA gene sequences was ∼10-fold higher in oiled (0.44 × 107 to 10.2 × 107 copies g−1) versus clean (0.024 × 107 to 1.4 × 107 copies g−1) sand. Community analysis revealed a distinct response to oil contamination, and SSU rRNA gene abundance derived from the genus Alcanivorax showed the largest increase in relative abundance in contaminated samples. We conclude that oil contamination from the DH spill had a profound impact on the abundance and community composition of indigenous bacteria in Gulf beach sands, and our evidence points to members of the Gammaproteobacteria (Alcanivorax, Marinobacter) and Alphaproteobacteria (Rhodobacteraceae) as key players in oil degradation there.
Hydrocarbon seeps provide inputs of petroleum hydrocarbons to widespread areas of the Timor Sea. Alkanes constitute the largest proportion of chemical components found in crude oils, and therefore genes involved in the biodegradation of these compounds may act as bioindicators for this ecosystem's response to seepage. To assess alkane biodegradation potential, the diversity and distribution of alkane hydroxylase (alkB) genes in sediments of the Timor Sea were studied. Deduced AlkB protein sequences derived from clone libraries identified sequences only distantly related to previously identified AlkB sequences, suggesting that the Timor Sea maybe a rich reservoir for novel alkane hydroxylase enzymes. Most sequences clustered with AlkB sequences previously identified from marine Gammaproteobacteria though protein sequence identities averaged only 73% (with a range of 60% to 94% sequence identities). AlkB sequence diversity was lower in deep water (>400 m) samples off the continental slope than in shallow water (<100 m) samples on the continental shelf but not significantly different in response to levels of alkanes. Real-time PCR assays targeting Timor Sea alkB genes were designed and used to quantify alkB gene targets. No correlation was found between gene copy numbers and levels of hydrocarbons measured in sediments using sensitive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques, probably due to the very low levels of hydrocarbons found in most sediment samples. Interestingly, however, copy numbers of alkB genes increased substantially in sediments exposed directly to active seepage even though only low or undetectable concentrations of hydrocarbons were measured in these sediments in complementary geochemical analyses due to efficient biodegradation.
The objective of this research was the evaluation of the effects of exogenous added surfactants on hydrocarbon biodegradation and on cell surface properties. Crude oil hydrocarbons are often difficult to remove from the environment because of their insolubility in water. The addition of surfactants enhances the removal of hydrocarbons by raising the solubility of these compounds. These surfactants cause them to become more vulnerable to degradation, thereby facilitating transportation across the cell membrane. The obtained results showed that the microorganism consortia of bacteria are useful biological agents within environmental bioremediation. The most effective amongst all, as regards biodegradation, were the consortia of Pseudomonas spp. and Bacillus spp. strains. The results indicated that the natural surfactants (rhamnolipides and saponins) are more effective surfactants in hydrocarbon biodegradation as compared to Triton X-100. The addition of natural surfactants enhanced the removal of hydrocarbon and diesel oil from the environment. Very promising was the use of saponins as a surfactant in hydrocarbon biodegradation. This surfactant significantly increases the organic compound biodegradation. In the case of those surfactants that could be easily adsorbed on cells of strains (e.g., rhamnolipides), a change of hydrophobicity to ca. 30–40% was noted. As the final result, an increase in hydrocarbon biodegradation was observed.
Biodegradation; Hydrocarbon, Hydrophobicity, Pseudomonas; Rhamnolipides; Saponins
A continuous flow-through system incubated in situ was used to model oil biodegradation in Arctic coastal waters. High numbers of oil-degrading microorganisms were found in the Arctic coastal waters examined in this study. The microbial community underlying oil slicks increased and showed a population shift to a greater percentage of hydrocarbon-utilizing microorganisms. Microbial populations and oil biodegradation were increased by the addition of nitrogen and phosphorus. Both abiotic and biodegradative losses were lower than expected, perhaps due to the unusually harsh, ice-dominated Arctic summer, during which these tests were conducted. Chromatographic and spectrometric analyses showed that residual oils contained similar percentages of individual components and classes of hydrocarbons, regardless of the amount of degradation, indicating that most components of the oil were being degraded at similar rates.
Crude oil was treated with purified emulsan, the heteropolysaccharide bioemulsifier produced by Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1. A mixed bacterial population as well as nine different pure cultures isolated from various sources was tested for biodegradation of emulsan-treated and untreated crude oil. Biodegradation was measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Recovery of 14CO2 from mineralized 14C-labeled substrates yielded quantitative data on degradation of specific compounds, and capillary gas chromatography of residual unlabeled oil yielded qualitative data on a broad spectrum of crude oil components. Biodegradation of linear alkanes and other saturated hydrocarbons, both by pure cultures and by the mixed population, was reduced some 50 to 90% after emulsan pretreatment. In addition, degradation of aromatic compounds by the mixed population was reduced some 90% in emulsan-treated oil. In sharp contrast, aromatic biodegradation by pure cultures was either unaffected or slightly stimulated by emulsification of the oil.
Soil bacterial population dynamics were examined in several crude-oil-contaminated soils to identify those organisms associated with alkane degradation and to assess patterns in microbial response across disparate soils. Seven soil types obtained from six geographically distinct areas of the United States (Arizona, Oregon, Indiana, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Montana) were used in controlled contamination experiments containing 2% (wt/wt) crude oil spiked with [1-14C]hexadecane. Microbial populations present during hydrocarbon degradation were analyzed using both 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and by traditional methods for cultivating hydrocarbon-oxidizing bacteria. After a 50-day incubation, all seven soils showed comparable hydrocarbon depletion, where >80% of added crude oil was depleted and approximately 40 to 70% of added [14C]hexadecane was converted to 14CO2. However, the initial rates of hydrocarbon depletion differed up to 10-fold, and preferential utilization of shorter-chain-length n-alkanes relative to longer-chain-length n-alkanes was observed in some soils. Distinct microbial populations developed, concomitant with crude-oil depletion. Phylogenetically diverse bacterial populations were selected across different soils, many of which were identical to hydrocarbon-degrading isolates obtained from the same systems (e.g., Nocardioides albus, Collimonas sp., and Rhodococcus coprophilus). In several cases, soil type was shown to be an important determinant, defining specific microorganisms responding to hydrocarbon contamination. However, similar Rhodococcus erythropolis-like populations were observed in four of the seven soils and were the most common hydrocarbon-degrading organisms identified via cultivation.
An analysis of the effect of an oil spill on mangrove sediments was carried out by contamination of mesocosms derived from two different mangroves, one with a history of contamination and one pristine. The association between N2 fixers and hydrocarbon degradation was assessed using quantitative PCR (qPCR) for the genes rrs and nifH, nifH clone library sequencing and total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) quantification using gas chromatography. TPH showed that the microbial communities of both mangroves were able to degrade the hydrocarbons added; however, whereas the majority of oil added to the mesocosm derived from the polluted mangrove was degraded in the 75 days of the experiment, there was only partially degradation in the mesocosm derived from the pristine mangrove. qPCR showed that the addition of oil led to an increase in rrs gene copy numbers in both mesocosms, having almost no effect on the nifH copy numbers in the pristine mangrove. Sequencing of nifH clones indicated that the changes promoted by the oil in the polluted mangrove were greater than those observed in the pristine mesocosm. The main effect observed in the polluted mesocosm was the selection of a single phylotype which is probably adapted to the presence of petroleum. These results, together with previous reports, give hints about the relationship between N2 fixation and hydrocarbon degradation in natural ecosystems.
Diazotrophs; Mangrove sediment; Microbial community; Oil degradation
Bioremediation of hydrocarbon pollutants is advantageous owing to the cost-effectiveness of the technology and the ubiquity of hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms in the soil. Soil microbial diversity is affected by hydrocarbon perturbation, thus selective enrichment of hydrocarbon utilizers occurs. Hydrocarbons interact with the soil matrix and soil microorganisms determining the fate of the contaminants relative to their chemical nature and microbial degradative capabilities, respectively. Provided the polluted soil has requisite values for environmental factors that influence microbial activities and there are no inhibitors of microbial metabolism, there is a good chance that there will be a viable and active population of hydrocarbon-utilizing microorganisms in the soil. Microbial methods for monitoring bioremediation of hydrocarbons include chemical, biochemical and microbiological molecular indices that measure rates of microbial activities to show that in the end the target goal of pollutant reduction to a safe and permissible level has been achieved. Enumeration and characterization of hydrocarbon degraders, use of micro titer plate-based most probable number technique, community level physiological profiling, phospholipid fatty acid analysis, 16S rRNA- and other nucleic acid-based molecular fingerprinting techniques, metagenomics, microarray analysis, respirometry and gas chromatography are some of the methods employed in bio-monitoring of hydrocarbon remediation as presented in this review.
Bioremediation; Hydrocarbon; Microbial diversity; Molecular techniques; Chemistry; Cancer Research; Agriculture; Biotechnology; Biomaterials; Stem Cells; Bioinformatics