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Isolation of alkali-tolerant benzene-degrading bacteria from a contaminated aquifer.AIMS: To isolate benzene-degrading strains from neutral and alkaline groundwaters contaminated by benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX) from the SIReN aquifer, UK, and to test their effective pH range and ability to degrade TEX. METHODS AND RESULTS: The 14 isolates studied had an optimum pH for growth of 8, and could degrade benzene to below detection level (1 microg l(-1)). Five Rhodococcus erythropolis strains were able to metabolize benzene up to pH 9, two distinct R. erythropolis strains to pH 10, and one Arthrobacter strain to pH 8.5. These Actinobacteria also degraded benzene at least down to pH 5.5. Six other isolates, a Hydrogenophaga and five Pseudomonas strains, had a narrower pH tolerance for benzene degradation (pH 6 to 8.5), and could metabolize toluene; in addition, the Hydrogenophaga and two Pseudomonas strains utilized o-, m- or p-xylenes. None of these strains degraded ethylbenzene. CONCLUSIONS: Phylogenetically distinct isolates, able to degrade BTX compounds, were obtained, and some degraded benzene at high pH. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: High pH has previously been found to inhibit in situ degradation of benzene, a widespread, carcinogenic groundwater contaminant. These benzene-degrading organisms therefore have potential applications in the remediation or natural attenuation of alkaline waters.
Transcriptional profiling of the marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis during growth on n-alkanes.The marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2 has attracted significant interest due to its hydrocarbonoclastic lifestyle, its alkane-centered metabolism, and for playing an important ecological role in cleaning up marine oil spills. In this study, we used microarray technology to characterize the transcriptional responses of A. borkumensis to n-hexadecane exposure as opposed to pyruvate, which led to the identification of a total of 220 differentially expressed genes, with 109 genes being upregulated and 111 genes being downregulated. Among the genes upregulated on alkanes are systems predicted to be involved in the terminal oxidation of alkanes, biofilm formation, signal transduction, and regulation.