Cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent characterization of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria in Guaymas Basin sediments

Tony Gutierrez, Jennifer Biddle, Andreas P Teske, Michael D Aitken

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    Marine hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria perform a fundamental role in the biodegradation of crude oil and its petrocheical derivatives in coastal and open ocean environments. However, there is a paucity of knowledge on the diversity and function of these organisms in deep-sea sediment. Here we used stable-isotope probing (SIP), a valuable tool to link the phylogeny and function of targeted microbial groups, to investigate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading bacteria under aerobic conditions in sediments from Guaymas Basin with uniformly labeled [13C]-phenanthrene (PHE). The dominant sequences in clone libraries constructed from 13C-enriched bacterial DNA (from PHE enrichments) were identified to belong to the genus Cycloclasticus. We used quantitative PCR primers targeting the 16S rRNA gene of the SIP-identified Cycloclasticus to determine their abundance in sediment incubations amended with unlabeled PHE and showed substantial increases in gene abundance during the experiments. We also isolated a strain, BG-2, representing the SIP-identified Cycloclasticus sequence (99.9% 16S rRNA gene sequence identity), and used this strain to provide direct evidence of PHE degradation and mineralization. In addition, we isolated Halomonas, Thalassospira, and Lutibacterium sp. with demonstrable PHE-degrading capacity from Guaymas Basin sediment. This study demonstrates the value of coupling SIP with cultivation methods to identify and expand on the known diversity of PAH-degrading bacteria in the deep-sea.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number695
    JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2015


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