Author(s): Stapleton RD, Sayler GS
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Abstract Abstract A multidisciplinary field study investigating the fate and transport of petroleum hydrocarbons commonly associated with jet-fuel contamination is currently underway at Columbus Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi. Sixty sediment cores from 12 boreholes were recovered from the study aquifer. The goal of this initial sampling was to characterize the potential microbial activity using 14C-labeled substrates, as well as the presence, abundance, and distribution of specific hydrocarbon degrading genotypes using DNA:DNA hybridization. Enumeration of total microbial abundance using a 16S rDNA universal oligonucleotide probe was compared to traditional enumeration methods. Total culturable populations determined by spread plate analysis ranged from a low of 10(4) to more than 10(6) organisms per gram sediment. Microbial abundance estimated by DNA hybridization studies with 16S rDNA genes ranged from 10(7) to 10(8) organisms per gram sediment. Molecular analysis of aquifer samples using DNA probes targeting genes encoding the degradative enzymes alkane hydroxylase (alkB), catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (nahH), naphthalene dioxygenase (nahA), toluene dioxygenase (todC1C2), toluene monooxygenase (tomA), and xylene monooxygenase (xylA), as well as two probes measuring methanogenic microorganisms, codh (carbon monoxide dehydrogenase) and mcr (methyl coenzyme reductase), revealed that each target gene sequence was present in nearly all 60 samples. The presence of organisms demonstrating the phenotype to degrade BTEX and naphthalene was further supported using mineralization assays with 14C-labeled benzene, toluene, naphthalene, and phenanthrene. Minimal activity occurred during the first 24 hours. After a period of 5-7 days, greater than 40\% of the target compounds were mineralized in aquifer sediments.
This article was published in Microb Ecol
and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology