Diversity and Degradative Potency of Extant Autochthonous Crude Oil-Metabolizing Species in a Chronically Polluted River

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Microbiology, University of Port Harcourt, P.M.B. 5323, Choba, Nigeria

2 World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence in Oilfield Chemicals Research, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

3 Centre for Marine Pollution Monitoring and Seafood Safety, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria


Persistent pollution of surface waters by hydrocarbon compounds is one of the foremost threats to limited global freshwater resources. This study analyzed the abundance, diversity and degradative capacities of hydrocarbon-utilizing bacteria in chronically polluted Kono River in the Nigerian Niger Delta in order to establish the bacterial drivers of ecological regeneration of the river after an oil spill. The study further aimed to develop a specialized bacterial consortium for application in bioremediation interventions. Bacillus, Pseudomonas and Enterobacter spp. were predominant out of the 82 isolates obtained. Klebsiella pneumoniae and two species of Enterobacter cloacae were identified as the most efficient hydrocarbon utilizers. The isolates were also confirmed as biosurfactant producers and possessed the alkB1 and nahAc genes for degradation of aliphatics and aromatics. E. cloacae-K11, K. pneumoniae-K05, E. cloacae-K12 and their consortium were able to degrade the total petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in batch systems by 59.37% – 96.06% and 68.40% – 92.46% respectively. K. pneumoniae-K05 showed the greatest petroleum degradation capacity of the three isolates but hydrocarbon degradation was most efficient with the bacterial consortium. The results obtained showed no significant differences at p≤0.05 between the degradation capacities of K. pneumoniae-K05 and the consortium for PAHs but a significant difference (p≤0.05) was seen with TPH degradation. A viable hydrocarbon degrading bacterial consortium was developed at the end of the study and it was concluded that the polluted river water displayed inherent potential for effective natural attenuation. 


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