Evaluating bacterial community structures in oil collected from the sea surface and sediment in the northern Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Bacterial community structures were evaluated in oil samples using culture-independent pyrosequencing, including oil mousses collected on sea surface and salt marshes during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and oil deposited in sediments adjacent to the wellhead 1 year after the spill. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that Erythrobacter, Rhodovulum, Stappia, and Thalassospira ofAlphaproteobacteria were the prevailing groups in the oil mousses, which may relate to high temperatures and strong irradiance in surface Gulf waters. In the mousse collected from the leaves of Spartina alterniflora, Vibrio of Gammaproteobacteria represented 57% of the total operational taxonomic units, suggesting that this indigenous genus is particularly responsive to the oil contamination in salt marshes. The bacterial communities in oil-contaminated sediments were highly diversified. The relatively high abundance of theMethylococcus, Methylobacter, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Chlorofexi bacteria resembles those found in certain cold-seep sediments with gas hydrates. Bacterial communities in the overlying water of the oil-contaminated sediment were dominated byRalstonia of Betaproteobacteria, which can degrade small aromatics, and Saccharophagus degradans of Gammaproteobacteria, a cellulose degrader, suggesting that overlying water was affected by the oil-contaminated sediments, possibly due to the dissolution of small aromatics and biosurfactants produced during biodegradation. Overall, these results provided key information needed to evaluate oil degradation in the region and develop future bioremediation strategies.

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Last updated on 06/26/2015