Novel aerobic benzene degrading microorganisms identified in three soils by stable isotope probing
The remediation of benzene contaminated groundwater often involves biodegradation and although the mechanisms of aerobic benzene biodegradation in laboratory cultures have been well studied, less is known about the microorganisms responsible for benzene degradation in mixed culture samples or at contaminated sites. To address this knowledge gap, DNA based stable isotope probing (SIP) was utilized to identify active benzene degraders in microcosms constructed with soil from three sources (a contaminated site and two agricultural sites). For this, replicate microcosms were amended with either labeled (13C) or unlabeled benzene and the extracted DNA samples were ultracentrifuged, fractioned and subject to terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP). The dominant benzene degraders (responsible for 13C uptake) were determined by comparing relative abundance of TRFLP phylotypes in heavy fractions of labeled benzene (13C) amended samples to the controls (from unlabeled benzene amended samples). Two phylotypes (a Polaromonas sp. and an Acidobacterium) were the major benzene degraders in the microcosms constructed from the contaminated site soil, whereas one phylotype incorporated the majority of the benzene-derived 13C in each of the agricultural soils (“candidate” phylum TM7 and an unclassified Sphingomonadaceae).