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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Jul;85(1):168-78. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12108. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

Effects of petroleum mixture types on soil bacterial population dynamics associated with the biodegradation of hydrocarbons in soil environments.

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Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan.


Soil bacterial population dynamics were examined to assess patterns in microbial response to contamination by different petroleum mixtures with variation in n-alkane profiles or toxic constituents such as pentachlorophenol (PCP). Three soil types from distinct areas of the United States (Montana, Oregon, and Arizona) were used in controlled perturbation experiments containing crude oil, kerosene, diesel, or diesel plus PCP spiked with (14)C-hexadecane or (14)C-tridecane. After a 50-day incubation, 30-70% of added (14)C-alkanes were mineralized to (14)CO₂ in Montana and Oregon soils. In contrast, significantly lower mineralization was observed with diesel or kerosene (< 5%) compared to crude-oil treatment (~45%) in the Arizona soil. Different hydrocarbon mixtures selected both unique and common microbial populations across all three soils. Conversely, the contamination of different soils with the same mixture selected for distinct microbial populations. The most consistent genotype observed, a Rhodococcus-like population, was present in the Montana soil with all mixture types. The addition of PCP selected for PCP-tolerant alkane-degrading specialist populations. The results indicated that petroleum mixture type influenced hydrocarbon degradation rates and microbial population selection and that soil characteristics, especially organic content, could also be an important determinant of community responses to hydrocarbon perturbation.

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