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Keywords:

  • Alcanivorax;
  • marine oil degradation;
  • oil sorbent materials;
  • bioremediation;
  • bioaugmentation;
  • predation

Abstract

An experimental prototype oil boom including oil sorbents, slow-release fertilizers and biomass of the marine oil-degrading bacterium, Alcanivorax borkumensis, was applied for sorption and degradation of heavy fuel oil in a 500-L mesocosm experiment. Fingerprinting of DNA and small subunit rRNA samples for microbial activity conducted to study the changes in microbial communities of both the water body and on the oil sorbent surface showed the prevalence of A. borkumensis on the surface of the oil sorbent. Growth of this obligate oil-degrading bacterium on immobilized oil coincided with a 30-fold increase in total respiration. A number of DNA and RNA signatures of aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria were detected both in samples of water body and on oil sorbent. Ultimately, the heavy fuel oil in this mesocosm study was effectively removed from the water body. This is the first study to successfully investigate the fate of oil-degrading microbial consortia in an experimental prototype for a bioremediation strategy in offshore, coastal or ship-bound oil spill mitigation using a combination of mechanical and biotechnological techniques.