In this report we describe the isolation of a strain from soil contaminated with gas oil by taking bacteria from a chemotactic ring on gas oil-containing soft agar plates. Partial 16 S rDNA sequencing of the isolated strain showed 99.1% identity with Flavimonas oryzihabitans. It was not only able to degrade different aliphatic hydrocarbons but it was also chemotactic towards gas oil and hexadecane, as demonstrated by the use of three different chemotaxis methods, such as agarose plug and capillary assays and swarm plate analysis. In addition, the strain was chemotactic to a variety of carbon sources that serve as growth substrates, including glucose, arabinose, mannitol, glycerol, gluconate, acetate, succinate, citrate, malate, lactate and casaminoacids. This is the first report on chemotaxis of a hydrocarbon-degrading bacterium towards a pure alkane, such as hexadecane.
The fact that environmental isolates show chemotaxis towards contaminant/s present in the site of isolation suggests that chemotaxis might enhance biodegradation by favouring contact between the degrading microorganism and its substrate.