A combination of culture-independent and culturing methods was used to determine the impacts of hydrocarbon contamination on the diversity of bacterial communities in coastal soil from Ross Island, Antarctica. While numbers of culturable aerobic heterotrophic microbes were 1-2 orders of magnitude higher in the hydrocarbon-contaminated soil than control soil, the populations were less diverse. Members of the divisions Fibrobacter/Acidobacterium, Cytophaga/Flavobacterium/Bacteroides, Deinococcus/Thermus, and Low G + C gram positive occurred almost exclusively in control soils whereas the contaminated soils were dominated by Proteobacteria; specifically, members of the genera Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas and Variovorax, some of which degrade hydrocarbons. Members of the Actinobacteria were found in both soils. © 2004 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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