MICROBIAL ECOLOGY AND THE PROBLEM OF PETROLEUM DEGRADATION IN CHESPEAKE BAY

Petroleum degradation in the marine environment is one of the many processes effected by microorganisms. Control of this process will be achieved only through an understanding of microbial ecology. Information obtained on the ecology of mercury-metabolizing bacteria in Chesapeake Bay has provided interesting comparisons with the petroleum-degrading microbial populations. Petroleum degradation studies are being done to obtain a seasonal incidence, as well as species distribution of petroleum-degrading microorganisms in Chesapeake Bay. From analysis of water and sediments collected at two stations in Chesapeake Bay it was found that the concentration of petroleum in an oil polluted site in Baltimore Harbor was five times greater than in Eastern Bay. The numbers of petroleum-degrading microorganisms, measured by direct and replica plating, in the water and sediment samples were related to the concentration of soil in each sample. Total yields of petroleum-degrading microorganisms grown on an oil substrate were greater for those organisms exposed to oil in the natural environment. Microorganisms isolated from water and sediment samples collected in Baltimore Harbor grew on substrates representative of the aliphatic, aromatic and refractory hydrocarbons. From analyses of species distribution, it was observed that a hydrocarbon-utilizing fungus, Cladosporium resinae, and actinomycetes were predominant among the hydrocarbon-utilizing isolates. Microbial degradation of petroleum in Chesapeake Bay appears to be mediated by the autochthonous microbial flora. The objective of work in process is to determine whether a seasonal fluctuation in the petroleum-degrading microflora occurs in the Bay.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Sponsored by Office of Naval Research.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Maryland, College Park

    Department of Microbiology
    College Park, MD  USA  20742
  • Authors:
    • Colwell, R R
    • Walker, J D
    • Nelson Jr, J D
  • Publication Date: 1975-1-24

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 13 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00084446
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: University of Maryland, College Park
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Tech. Rpt.
  • Contract Numbers: N00014-67A-0239-0027
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 1 1975 12:00AM