Characterization of Hydrocarbon-degrading Bacteria From an Oil-spill Site
Shuryan, Theresa M.
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Oil spills are a great environmental concern. Hydrocarbons found in petroleum cause significant harm to the biota in the area affected by the spill. While many organisms cannot survive in an oil spill, soil microbes have evolved metabolic pathways that break down these dangerous hydrocarbons. Our goal of this study was to culture and characterize microbes from an oil spill site and to simulate the field conditions with varying amounts of oil and medium to find the ratio that yields the most DNA. To achieve this goal, we inoculated microcosms under anaerobic conditions and R2A agar plates under aerobic conditions using samples of sediment from an oil spill site. We were unable to identify the microbial communities in the microcosms, but we did find that a ratio of 7 mL of medium to 5 mL of oil with magnetite yielded the most DNA, suggesting that magnetite is beneficial for the growth of microbial populations in the microcosms. From the R2A agar plates, we identified 6 genera and 2 unclassified families of Proteobacteria through the programs BLAST and Ribosomal Database Project (RDP): Sphingomonas, Brevundimonas, Rhizobium, Polaromonas, Pseudomonas, Variovorax, unclassified Pseudomonadaceae, and unclassified Comamonodaceae. Although R2A agar was successfully used for the growth of Proteobacteria, inoculating more plates or microcosms with aerobic and anaerobic conditions under more types of media is also recommended to further observe the metabolic activities of the microbial community in oil spills.