This study evaluates the ability of two bacterial consortia (C2PL05 and BOS08), extracted from very different environments, to degrade low- (naphthalene, phenanthrene, anthracene) and high- (pyrene, perylene) molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at high (15-25 °C) and low (5-15 °C) temperature ranges. C2PL05 was isolated from a soil in an area chronically and heavily contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and BOS08 from decomposing wood in an unpolluted forest, free of PAHs. Bacterial consortia were described by cultivable and noncultivable techniques (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis). Fungal DNA was not observed within the wood-decomposing consortium and fungal activity was therefore negligible during most of the PAH degradation process. PAH-degrading bacterial populations, measured by most probable number enumeration, increased during the exponential phase. Toxicity estimated by the Microtox method was reduced to low levels and final PAH depletion, determined by HPLC, confirmed the high degree (54% and 99%, respectively) of low- and high-molecular-weight PAH degradation capacity of the two consortia. PAH-degrading capacity was also confirmed at low temperatures, and especially by consortium BOS08 not previously exposed to those toxic compounds, where strains of Acinetobacter sp., Pseudomonas sp., Ralstonia sp. and Microbacterium sp. were identified.
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