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Relationship between hydro carbons and bacterial activity in mediterranean sediments 2. hydro carbon degrading activity of bacteria from sediments

, : Relationship between hydro carbons and bacterial activity in mediterranean sediments 2. hydro carbon degrading activity of bacteria from sediments. Marine Environmental Research 9(1): 19-36

In marine sediments from the Mediterranean coast polluted by oil spills (Etang de Berre) high bacterial activity is responsible for self-purification; samples from these areas show a bacterial density several orders of magnitude higher than samples from non-polluted areas (Isle des Embiez). Of the heterotrophic bacteria in the polluted areas, 60-80% are hydrocarbon-degrading, compared with 0.01% in the non-polluted area. Several strains of hydrocarbon utilizer were isolated, a mixture of strains from each biotope was taken to represent a biotope population and their activity on different types of hydrocarbons (n-alkanes, iso-alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatics) was determined. With ammonia as the N source, the biotope population from the polluted area degraded hydrocarbons much more readily than the biotope population from the non-polluted area. With nitrate as the N source, the degradation was much reduced and, for some hydrocarbons, ceased in both populations. Individual hydrocarbons encouraged the growth of individual strains in the biotope population. In natural mixtures of hydrocarbons, all strains grew well and degraded aliphatics. There was a good correlation between the respiratory activity of the biotope population and the ability of the population to utilize hydrocarbons for growth.

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