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Effect of Emulsan on Biodegradation of Crude Oil by Pure and Mixed Bacterial Cultures

By Julia M. Foght, David L. Gutnick and Donald W. S. Westlake


Crude oil was treated with purified emulsan, the heteropolysaccharide bioemulsifier produced by Acinetobacter calcoaceticus RAG-1. A mixed bacterial population as well as nine different pure cultures isolated from various sources was tested for biodegradation of emulsan-treated and untreated crude oil. Biodegradation was measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Recovery of (14)CO(2) from mineralized (14)C-labeled substrates yielded quantitative data on degradation of specific compounds, and capillary gas chromatography of residual unlabeled oil yielded qualitative data on a broad spectrum of crude oil components. Biodegradation of linear alkanes and other saturated hydrocarbons, both by pure cultures and by the mixed population, was reduced some 50 to 90% after emulsan pretreatment. In addition, degradation of aromatic compounds by the mixed population was reduced some 90% in emulsan-treated oil. In sharp contrast, aromatic biodegradation by pure cultures was either unaffected or slightly stimulated by emulsification of the oil

Topics: Applied Environmental and Public Health Microbiology
Year: 1989
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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