Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the major source of environmental contamination resulting from petroleum industry. Due to the health hazards associated with the presence of these compounds, about 16 PAHs have been listed as priority pollutants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). In a collaborative research with the University of Puerto Rico, several strains of naturally occurring bacteria have been isolated and characterized for their ability to degrade phenanthrene, a known indicator of pollution resulting from petroleum. Interestingly, addition of nitrogen source dramatically enhanced the degradation of this compound by these bacteria in seawater. This report provided fundamental knowledge which will be useful for developing the on-site bioremediation procedures for PAHs.
Technical Abstract: Three bacterial strains capable of degrading phenanthrene, an indicator of petroleum pollution were isolated from the Guayanilla Bay in Southwest of Puerto Rico. One of the bacterial strains was physiologically and biochemically characterized as belonging to genus Alteromonas. This strain showed 64% similarity to previously characterized Alteromonas communis based on its ability to utilize sugars and other substances as a sole carbon source. All three strains degraded phenanthrene added (10 ug/ml) to the seawater samples from Guayanilla Bay within 15 hours of inoculation. In uninoculated samples, indigenous microbial flora required 40 hours to degrade same concentration of phenanthrene in seawater. While addition of inorganic phosphate had no effect on the phenanthrene degradation in samples from Guayanilla Bay, inorganic nitrogen enhanced degradation several fold, suggesting that the availability of nitrogen may be important for phenanthrene degradation by inoculated microbes in natural waters.