Environmental science and pollution research international

Dynamics and distribution of bacterial and archaeal communities in oil-contaminated temperate coastal mudflat mesocosms.

PMID 25869427


Mudflats are ecologically important habitats that are susceptible to oil pollution, but intervention is difficult in these fine-grained sediments, and so clean-up usually relies on natural attenuation. Therefore, we investigated the impact of crude oil on the bacterial, diatom and archaeal communities within the upper parts of the diatom-dominated sediment and the biofilm that detached from the surface at high tide. Biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons was rapid, with a 50 % decrease in concentration in the 0-2-mm section of sediment by 3 days, indicating the presence of a primed hydrocarbon-degrading community. The biggest oil-induced change was in the biofilm that detached from the sediment, with increased relative abundance of several types of diatom and of the obligately hydrocarbonoclastic Oleibacter sp., which constituted 5 % of the pyrosequences in the oiled floating biofilm on day 3 compared to 0.6 % in the non-oiled biofilm. Differences in bacterial community composition between oiled and non-oiled samples from the 0-2-mm section of sediment were only significant at days 12 to 28, and the 2-4-mm-sediment bacterial communities were not significantly affected by oil. However, specific members of the Chromatiales were detected (1 % of sequences in the 2-4-mm section) only in the oiled sediment, supporting other work that implicates them in anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation. Unlike the Bacteria, the archaeal communities were not significantly affected by oil. In fact, changes in community composition over time, perhaps caused by decreased nutrient concentration and changes in grazing pressure, overshadowed the effect of oil for both Bacteria and Archaea. Many obligate hydrocarbonoclastic and generalist oil-degrading bacteria were isolated, and there was little correspondence between the isolates and the main taxa detected by pyrosequencing of sediment-extracted DNA, except for Alcanivorax, Thalassolituus, Cycloclasticus and Roseobacter spp., which were detected by both methods.

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