Characterization of two diesel fuel degrading microbial consortia enriched from a non acclimated, complex source of microorganisms

Giulio Zanaroli, Sara Di Toro, Daniela Todaro, Giovanna C Varese, Antonio Bertolotto, Fabio Fava
Microbial Cell Factories 2010, 9: 10

BACKGROUND: The bioremediation of soils impacted by diesel fuels is very often limited by the lack of indigenous microflora with the required broad substrate specificity. In such cases, the soil inoculation with cultures with the desired catabolic capabilities (bioaugmentation) is an essential option. The use of consortia of microorganisms obtained from rich sources of microbes (e.g., sludges, composts, manure) via enrichment (i.e., serial growth transfers) on the polluting hydrocarbons would provide bioremediation enhancements more robust and reproducible than those achieved with specialized pure cultures or tailored combinations (co-cultures) of them, together with none or minor risks of soil loading with unrelated or pathogenic allocthonous microorganisms.

RESULTS: In this work, two microbial consortia, i.e., ENZ-G1 and ENZ-G2, were enriched from ENZYVEBA (a complex commercial source of microorganisms) on Diesel (G1) and HiQ Diesel (G2), respectively, and characterized in terms of microbial composition and hydrocarbon biodegradation capability and specificity. ENZ-G1 and ENZ-G2 exhibited a comparable and remarkable biodegradation capability and specificity towards n-C10 to n-C24 linear paraffins by removing about 90% of 1 g l-1 of diesel fuel applied after 10 days of aerobic shaken flask batch culture incubation at 30 degrees C. Cultivation dependent and independent approaches evidenced that both consortia consist of bacteria belonging to the genera Chryseobacterium, Acinetobacter, Psudomonas, Stenotrophomonas, Alcaligenes and Gordonia along with the fungus Trametes gibbosa. However, only the fungus was found to grow and remarkably biodegrade G1 and G2 hydrocarbons under the same conditions. The biodegradation activity and specificity and the microbial composition of ENZ-G1 and ENZ-G2 did not significantly change after cryopreservation and storage at -20 degrees C for several months.

CONCLUSIONS: ENZ-G1 and ENZ-G2 are very similar highly enriched consortia of bacteria and a fungus capable of extensively degrading a broad range of the hydrocarbons mainly composing diesel fuels. Given their remarkable biodegradation potential, stability and resistance to cryopreservation, both consortia appear very interesting candidates for bioaugmentation operations on Diesel fuel impacted soils and sites.

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