An insight into the growth of Alcanivorax borkumensis under different inoculation conditions

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Alcanivorax borkumensis is a hydrocarbon degrading bacterium found to dominate bacterial communities in marine regions containing high levels of hydrocarbons. It has been linked to oil degradation around oil spill sites; thus, it has potential to be used actively in oil spill remediation. Here, we investigate the effect of solution and interfacial conditions on the growth of A. borkumensis. We show that providing A. borkumensis with dissolved organic nitrogen as an additional nutrient in solution leads to shorter lag times prior to hydrocarbon utilization at the oil-water interface. Hence, A. borkumensis can be encouraged to utilize n-alkanes present at the surface of the system quicker by supplementing the system with dissolved organic nitrogen. For fixed oil-water interfacial areas, the growth rates of bacteria show weak dependence on the initial bacteria concentrations; however, increasing bulk interfacial area leads to higher bacterial growth rates due to an increased amount of available surface area for degradation. To our knowledge, this is the first study to offer quantitative insight into how A. borkumensis can be actively supported in their utilization and degradation of oil for the bioremediation of marine oil spills.

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Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering