The role of indigenous microbial communities in the removal of hydrocarbons from the environment has been widely investigated
AG-014699 mw showing that a small fraction of all natural microbial communities irrespective of location or prevailing environmental conditions can grow on both aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons (Sepic et al., 1995; Solano-Serena et al., 2000; Ruberto et al., 2003). The size of these populations of degrading microorganisms often reflects the historical exposure of the environment to either biogenic or anthropogenic hydrocarbon sources. In general, while hydrocarbon degraders may constitute < 0.1% of the microbial community in unpolluted environments, in oil-polluted ecosystems they can constitute up to 100% of the culturable
microorganisms (Atlas, 1981). Several studies (Spain et al., 1980; Carmichael & Pfaender, 1997; Chen & Aitken, 1998; Macleod & Semple, 2006; McLoughlin et al., 2009) have shown an increase in hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms in different soil environments, following exposure to aromatic hydrocarbons. Where biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been observed in cold environments, it has been attributed to cold adapted psychrotrophs and psychrophiles, which are widely distributed in nature because a large part of the earth’s biosphere is at temperatures below 5 °C (Margesin & Schinner, 1999; Ferguson
et al., 2003a, b). A significant increase in numbers selleck chemicals llc of psychrotrophic bacteria following contamination in Sitaxentan cold environments has been reported leading to suggestions of their potential for rapid adaptation and their predominance over psychrophiles in cold environments (Delille et al., 1998; Margesin & Schinner, 1999; Delille, 2000). Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria isolated from contaminated Antarctic soils have been identified and include the genera Rhodococcus, Acinobacter, Pseudomonas and Sphingomonas (Aislabie et al., 2004, 2006; Ma et al., 2006). Many of these microorganisms were psychrotrophic rather than psychrophilic; while they could grow at low temperatures, optimum growth was at temperatures > 15 °C (Aislabie et al., 2004). Livingstone Island is one of the South Shetland Islands and it is separated from the Antarctica Peninsula by the Bransfield Strait. Its temperatures are relatively constant, rarely exceeding 3 °C in summer or falling below −11 °C in winter, with wind chill temperatures up to 5–10 °C lower. It hosts some summer scientific stations established from 1988 and benefits from the Antarctic Treaty which regulates both human presence and activities on the continent (Quesada et al., 2009).