Biodegradation of mixed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by pure and mixed cultures of biosurfactant producing thermophilic and thermo-tolerant bacteria.


National Collection of Industrial Microorganisms (NCIM), CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India; Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), New Delhi, India. Electronic address: [Email]


Applicability of thermophilic and thermo-tolerant microorganisms for biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with low water solubility is an interesting strategy for improving the biodegradation efficiency. In this study, we evaluated utility of thermophilic and thermo-tolerant bacteria isolated from Unkeshwar hot spring (India) for biodegradation of four different PAHs. Water samples were enriched in mineral salt medium (MSM) containing a mixture of four PAHs compounds (anthracene: ANT, fluorene: FLU, phenanthrene: PHE and pyrene: PYR) at 37 °C and 50 °C. After growth based screening, four potent strains obtained which were identified as Aeribacillus pallidus (UCPS2), Bacillus axarquiensis (UCPD1), Bacillus siamensis (GHP76) and Bacillus subtilis subsp. inaquosorum (U277) based on the 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. Degradation of mixed PAH compounds was evaluated by pure as well as mixed cultures under shake flask conditions using MSM supplemented with 200 mg/L concentration of PAHs (50 mg/L of each compound) for 15 days at 37 °C and 50 °C. A relatively higher degradation of ANT (92%- 96%), FLU (83% - 86%), PHE (16% - 54%) and PYR (51% - 71%) was achieved at 50 °C by Aeribacillus sp. (UCPS2) and mixed culture. Furthermore, crude oil was used as a substrate to study the degradation of same PAHs using these organisms which also revealed with similar results with the higher degradation at 50 °C. Interestingly, PAH-degrading strains were also positive for biosurfactant production. Biosurfactants were identified as the variants of surfactins (lipopeptide biosurfactants) based on analytical tools and phylogenetic analysis of the surfactin genes. Overall, this study has shown that hot spring microbes may have a potential for PAHs degradation and also biosurfactant production at a higher temperature, which could provide a novel perspective for removal of PAHs residues from oil contaminated sites.


Biodegradation,Biosurfactants,Crude oil,Mixed culture,PAHs,Thermophiles,