Oil degradation potential of microbial communities in water and sediment of Baltic Sea coastal area

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Two long-term potentially oil exposed Baltic Sea coastal sites near old oil refineries and har-bours were compared to nearby less exposed sites in terms of bacterial, archaeal and fungal microbiomes and oil degradation potential. The bacterial, archaeal and fungal diversities were similar in oil exposed and less exposed sampling sites based on bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA gene and fungal 5.8S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing from both DNA and RNA fractions. The number of genes participating in alkane degradation (alkB) or PAH-ring hydroxylation (PAH–RHDα) were detected by qPCR in all water and sediment samples. These numbers correlated with the number of bacterial 16S rRNA gene copies in sediment samples but not with the concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons or PAHs. This indicates that both the clean and the more polluted sites at the Baltic Sea coastal areas have a potential for petroleum hydrocarbon degradation. The active community (based on RNA) of the coastal Baltic Sea water differed largely from the total community (based on DNA). The most noticeable difference was seen in the bacterial community in the water samples were the active community was dominated by Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria whereas in total bacterial community Actinobacteria was the most abundant phylum. The abundance, richness and diversity of Fungi present in water and sediment samples was in general lower than that of Bacteria and Archaea. Furthermore, the sampling location influenced the fungal community composition, whereas the bacterial and archaeal communities were not influenced. This may indicate that the fungal species that are adapted to the Baltic Sea environments are few and that Fungi are potentially more vulnerable to or affected by the Baltic Sea conditions than Bacteria and Archaea.




Miettinen, H., Bomberg, M., Nyyssönen, M., Reunamo, A., Jørgensen, K. S., & Vikman, M. (2019). Oil degradation potential of microbial communities in water and sediment of Baltic Sea coastal area. PLoS ONE, 14(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218834

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