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Physical and Metabolic Interactions of Pseudomonas sp. Strain JA5-B45 and Rhodococcus sp. Strain F9-D79 during Growth on Crude Oil and Effect of a Chemical Surfactant on Them

By Jonathan D. Van Hamme and Owen P. Ward


Methods to enhance crude oil biodegradation by mixed bacterial cultures, for example, (bio)surfactant addition, are complicated by the diversity of microbial populations within a given culture. The physical and metabolic interactions between Rhodococcus sp. strain F9-D79 and Pseudomonas sp. strain JA5-B45 were examined during growth on Bow River crude oil. The effects of a nonionic chemical surfactant, Igepal CO-630 (nonylphenol ethoxylate), also were evaluated. Strain F9-D79 grew attached to the oil-water interface and produced a mycolic acid-containing capsule. Crude oil emulsification and surface activity were associated with the cellular fraction. Strain JA5-B45 grew in the aqueous phase and was unable to emulsify oil, but cell-free supernatants mediated kerosene-water emulsion formation. In coculture, stable emulsions were formed and strain JA5-B45 had an affinity for the capsule produced by strain F9-D79. Igepal CO-630 inhibited F9-D79 cells from adhering to the interface, and cells grew dispersed in the aqueous phase as 0.5-μm cocci rather than 2.5-μm rods. The surfactant increased total petroleum hydrocarbon removal by strain JA5-B45 from 4 to 22% and included both saturated compounds and aromatics. In coculture, TPH removal increased from 13 to 40% following surfactant addition. The culture pH normally increased from 7.0 to between 7.5 and 8.5, although addition of Igepal CO-630 to F9-D79 cultures resulted in a drop to pH 5.5. We suggest a dual role for the nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactant in the coculture: (i) to improve hydrocarbon uptake by strain JA5-B45 through emulsification and (ii) to prevent strain F9-D79 from adhering to the oil-water interface, indirectly increasing hydrocarbon availability. These varied effects on hydrocarbon biodegradation could explain some of the known diversity of surfactant effects

Topics: Physiology and Biotechnology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1128/AEM.67.10.4874-4879.2001
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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