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Anaerobic biodegradation of crude oil under sulphate-reducing conditions leads to only modest enrichment of recognized sulphate-reducing taxa

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Angela SherryORCiD, Emeritus Professor Neil GrayORCiD, Dr Carolyn Aitken, Dr Martin Jones, Professor Stephen Larter, Bernard Bowler, Professor Ian Head


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Crude oil degradation under sulfate-reducing conditions was investigated in microcosms, amended with North Sea crude oil and inoculated with estuarine sediment from the River Tyne, UK. Linear alkanes (nC7-nC34) were degraded over a 686 day period in oil-amended microcosms, in contrast alkane degradation was minimal in microcosms which were inhibited with sodium molybdate. Libraries of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes were prepared from DNA extracted from oil-amended microcosms at day 176, when the systems were actively sulfate-reducing (17.7 ± 0.9 µmol L-1 SO42− day-1 g-1 wet sediment) and at day 302, by which point sulfate was depleted. Bacteria from the phyla Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria (Delta-, Gamma- classes) were enriched in oil degrading microcosms relative to control microcosms to which no oil was added. Sequences of 16S rRNA genes from conventional sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) such as Desulfotomaculum, Desulfosporomusa, Desulfosporosinus, Desulfovibrio, Desulfobulbus, Desulfobacter and Desulfobacterium, which have previously been implicated in oil-degradation in other hydrocarbon impacted environments, were not dominant in clone libraries prepared from oil-amended microcosms that were actively reducing sulfate at day 176. Instead sequences from Gammaproteobacteria (~34%), most closely related to Marinobacterium sp. and members of the family Peptostreptococcaceae within the Firmicutes (~27%), were detected at highest frequency. By day 302, when sulfate was depleted and the majority of n-alkane degradation had already occurred, a shift in community composition was apparent in oil-amended microcosms with sequences from Chloroflexi (family Anaerolineaceae) being most frequently encountered (24%), together with Firmicutes (20%) and the more conventional SRM; Deltaproteobacteria (19%). These data suggest that other groups of organisms in addition to conventional sulfate-reducing microorganisms play a role in the anaerobic degradation of crude oil in some sulfate containing environments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sherry A, Gray ND, Ditchfield AK, Aitken CM, Jones DM, Röling WFM, Hallmann C, Larter SR, Bowler BFJ, Head IM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation

Year: 2013

Volume: 81

Pages: 105-113

Print publication date: 15/05/2012

ISSN (print): 0964-8305

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0208

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.ibiod.2012.04.009

Notes: Special Issue: 3rd International Symposium on Applied Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Oil Systems


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