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Microbial diversity and anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation potential in an oil-contaminated mangrove sediment

Luiza L Andrade13, Deborah CA Leite1, Edir M Ferreira1, Lívia Q Ferreira2, Geraldo R Paula2, Michael J Maguire3, Casey RJ Hubert3, Raquel S Peixoto1, Regina MCP Domingues2 and Alexandre S Rosado1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Ecologia Molecular Microbiana, Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de Góes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Biologia de Anaeróbios, Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de Góes, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:186  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-186

Published: 30 August 2012



Mangrove forests are coastal wetlands that provide vital ecosystem services and serve as barriers against natural disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes and tropical storms. Mangroves harbour a large diversity of organisms, including microorganisms with important roles in nutrient cycling and availability. Due to tidal influence, mangroves are sites where crude oil from spills farther away can accumulate. The relationship between mangrove bacterial diversity and oil degradation in mangrove sediments remains poorly understood.


Mangrove sediment was sampled from 0–5, 15–20 and 35–40 cm depth intervals from the Suruí River mangrove (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), which has a history of oil contamination. DGGE fingerprinting for bamA, dsr and 16S rRNA encoding fragment genes, and qPCR analysis using dsr and 16S rRNA gene fragment revealed differences with sediment depth.


Analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA gene diversity revealed changes with depth. DGGE for bamA and dsr genes shows that the anaerobic hydrocarbon-degrading community profile also changed between 5 and 15 cm depth, and is similar in the two deeper sediments, indicating that below 15 cm the anaerobic hydrocarbon-degrading community appears to be well established and homogeneous in this mangrove sediment. qPCR analysis revealed differences with sediment depth, with general bacterial abundance in the top layer (0–5 cm) being greater than in both deeper sediment layers (15–20 and 35–40 cm), which were similar to each other.

Mangrove; Bacterial diversity; Anoxic sediment; Sulphate; Petroleum; Hydrocarbons