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Microb Ecol. 2015 Oct;70(3):724-40. doi: 10.1007/s00248-015-0606-7. Epub 2015 Apr 29.

Conversion of Uric Acid into Ammonium in Oil-Degrading Marine Microbial Communities: a Possible Role of Halomonads.

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School of Biological Sciences, Environment Centre Wales, Bangor University, LL57 2UW, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK.
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut - Federal research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Novel and Emerging Diseases, Südufer 10, 17493, Greifswald, Insel Riems, Germany.
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Institute of Catalysis, 28049, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Food, Environment and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS), University of Milan, via Celoria 2, 20133, Milan, Italy.
BESE Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
BGI Tech Solutions Co., Ltd, Main Building, Beishan Industrial Zone, Yantian District, Shenzhen, 518083, China.
School of Biological Sciences, Environment Centre Wales, Bangor University, LL57 2UW, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Research Institute, City for Scientific Research & Technology Applications, Alexandria, Egypt.
Highe Higher Institute for Biotechnology, Biotechpole of Sidi Thabet, University of Manouba, LR11ES31, 2020, Sidi Thabet, Ariana, Tunisia.
Deanship of Research & Doctoral Studies, Hamdan Bin Mohammad Smart University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
EcoTechSystems Ltd., Ancona, Italy.
School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece.


Uric acid is a promising hydrophobic nitrogen source for biostimulation of microbial activities in oil-impacted marine environments. This study investigated metabolic processes and microbial community changes in a series of microcosms using sediment from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea amended with ammonium and uric acid. Respiration, emulsification, ammonium and protein concentration measurements suggested a rapid production of ammonium from uric acid accompanied by the development of microbial communities containing hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria after 3 weeks of incubation. About 80 % of uric acid was converted to ammonium within the first few days of the experiment. Microbial population dynamics were investigated by Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis and Illumina sequencing as well as by culture-based techniques. Resulting data indicated that strains related to Halomonas spp. converted uric acid into ammonium, which stimulated growth of microbial consortia dominated by Alcanivorax spp. and Pseudomonas spp. Several strains of Halomonas spp. were isolated on uric acid as the sole carbon source showed location specificity. These results point towards a possible role of halomonads in the conversion of uric acid to ammonium utilized by hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria.


Alcanivorax; Bioremediation; Crude oil degradation

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