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Microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in a polluted tropical stream

posted Nov 11, 2010, 12:32 PM by Cesar Harada

Sunday A. Adebusoye, Matthew O. Ilori1, Olukayode O. Amund1, Olakunle D. Teniola and S. O. Olatope2
(1)  Faculty of Science, Department of Botany and Microbiology, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
(2)  Biotechnology Division, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria

Received: 2 August 2006  Accepted: 8 December 2006  Published online: 24 January 2007

Summary  Crude oil degradation was observed in water samples from three sites along the course of a polluted stream in Lagos, Nigeria. Consistent increase and decrease in the total viable counts (TVCs) of indigenous organisms occurred in the test and control experiments, respectively. Enrichments of the water samples with crude oil resulted in the isolation of nine bacteria belonging to seven genera. A mixed culture was developed from the assemblage of the nine species. The defined microbial consortium utilized a wide range of pure HCs including cycloalkane and aromatic HCs. Utilization of crude oil and petroleum cuts, i.e., kerosene and diesel resulted in an increase in TVC (till day 10) concomitant with decreases in pH and residual oil concentration. Crude oil, diesel and kerosene were degraded by 88, 85 and 78%, respectively, in 14 days. Substrate uptake studies with axenic cultures showed that growth was not sustainable on either cyclohexane or aromatics while degradation of the petroleum fractions fell below 67% in spite of extended incubation period (20 day). From the GC analysis of recovered oil, while reductions in peaks of n-alkane fractions and in biomarkers namely n-C17/pristane and n-C18/phytane ratios were observed in culture fluids of pure strains, complete removal of all the HC components of kerosene, diesel and crude oil including the isoprenoids was obtained with the consortium within 14 days.

Keywords  Bacteria - Degradation - Hydrocarbons - Phytane - Pristane - Residual oil