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Gene diversity of CYP153A and AlkB alkane hydroxylases in oil-degrading bacteria isolated from the Atlantic Ocean


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Alkane hydroxylases, including the integral-membrane non-haem iron monooxygenase (AlkB) and cytochrome P450 CYP153 family, are key enzymes in bacterial alkane oxidation. Although both genes have been detected in a number of bacteria and environments, knowledge about the diversity of these genes in marine alkane-degrading bacteria is still limited, especially in pelagic areas. In this report, 177 bacterial isolates, comprising 43 genera, were obtained from 18 oil-degrading consortia enriched from surface seawater samples collected from the Atlantic Ocean. Many isolates were confirmed to be the first oil-degraders in their affiliated genera including Brachybacterium, Idiomarina, Leifsonia, Martelella, Kordiimonas, Parvibaculum and Tistrella. Using degenerate PCR primers, alkB and CYP153A P450 genes were surveyed in these bacteria. In total, 82 P450 and 52 alkB gene fragments were obtained from 80 of the isolates. These isolates mainly belonged to Alcanivorax, Bacillus, Erythrobacter, Martelella, Parvibaculum and Salinisphaera, some of which were reported, for the first time, to encode alkane hydroxylases. Phylogenetic analysis showed that both genes were quite diverse and formed several clusters, most of which were generated from various Alcanivorax bacteria. Noticeably, some sequences, such as those from the Salinisphaera genus, were grouped into a distantly related novel cluster. Inspection of the linkage between gene and host revealed that alkB and P450 tend to coexist in Alcanivorax and Salinisphaera, while in all isolates of Parvibaculum, only P450 genes were found, but of multiple homologues. Multiple homologues of alkB mostly cooccurred in Alcanivorax isolates. Conversely, distantly related isolates contained similar or even identical sequences. In summary, various oil-degrading bacteria, which harboured diverse P450 and alkB genes, were found in the surface water of Atlantic Ocean. Our results help to show the diversity of P450 and alkB genes in prokaryotes, and to portray the geographic distribution of oil-degrading bacteria in marine environments.