Influence of Pressure and Dispersant on Oil Biodegradation by a Newly Isolated Rhodococcus Strain from Deep-Sea Sediments of the Gulf of Mexico

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Biodegradation, Environmental, Geologic Sediments, Gulf of Mexico, Petroleum, Petroleum Pollution, Rhodococcus, Seawater, Water Microbiology

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A new Rhodococcus strain, capable of degrading crude oil, was isolated from the Gulf of Mexico deep-sea sediment and was investigated for its biodegradation characteristics under atmospheric as well as under deep-sea pressure (1500 m = 15 MPa). Additionally, the effect of dispersant (Corexit EC9500A) addition was studied. Rhodococcus sp. PC20 was shown to degrade 60.5 ± 10.7% of the saturated and aromatic fraction of crude oil at atmospheric pressure and 74.2 ± 9.1% at deep-sea level pressure within 96 h. Degradation rates, especially for monoaromatic hydrocarbons, were significantly higher at elevated pressure compared to atmospheric pressure. This study found a growth inhibiting effect at a dispersant to oil ratio of 1:100 and higher. This effect of the dispersant was enhanced when elevated pressure was applied.

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Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 150, art. 110683