Changes in bacterial communities from anaerobic digesters during petroleum hydrocarbon degradation
Anaerobic biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) to methane has been recognized to occur in oil reservoirs and contaminated surface sites alike. This process could be employed efficiently for the treatment of contaminated materials, including petrochemical wastes and PHC-contaminated soil, since no external electron acceptor is required. Moreover, the controlled production of methane in digestion plants, similarly to the anaerobic digestion (AD) of energy crops or organic residues, would enable for energy recovery from these wastes. At present, little is known about the bacterial communities involved in and responsible for hydrocarbon fermentation, the initial step in PHC conversion to methane. In the present study, the fate of two different methanogenic communities derived from the AD of wastewater (WWT) and of biowaste, mixed with PHC-contaminated soil (SWT), was monitored during incubation with PHC using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rDNA genes amplified with Bacteria-specific primers. During 11 months of incubation, slight but significant degradation of PHC occurred in both sludges and distinct bacterial communities were developing. In both sludges, Bacteroidetes were found. In addition, in WWT, the bacterial community was found to be dominated by Synergistetes and Proteobacteria, while Firmicutes and unidentified members were abundant in SWT. These results indicate that bacterial communities from anaerobic digesters can adapt to and degrade petroleum hydrocarbons. The decontamination of PHC-containing waste via fermentative treatment appears possible.
► Unadapted methanogenic sludges from anaerobic digesters were incubated with crude oil. ► Petroleum hydrocarbons were degraded by both consortia. ► Members of phyla Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Synergistetes and Firmicutes present. ► Fermentative treatment of petroleum-contaminated waste appears possible.
Journal: Journal of Biotechnology - Volume 157, Issue 4, 20 February 2012, Pages 564–572