Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 76, Issue 6, pp 1209–1221 | Cite as

Bacterial metabolism of long-chain n-alkanes

  • Alexander WentzelEmail author
  • Trond E. Ellingsen
  • Hans-Kristian Kotlar
  • Sergey B. Zotchev
  • Mimmi Throne-Holst


Degradation of alkanes is a widespread phenomenon in nature, and numerous microorganisms, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, capable of utilizing these substrates as a carbon and energy source have been isolated and characterized. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the understanding of bacterial metabolism of long-chain n-alkanes. Bacterial strategies for accessing these highly hydrophobic substrates are presented, along with systems for their enzymatic degradation and conversion into products of potential industrial value. We further summarize the current knowledge on the regulation of bacterial long-chain n-alkane metabolism and survey progress in understanding bacterial pathways for utilization of n-alkanes under anaerobic conditions.


Bacterial alkane metabolism Alkane degradation Long-chain n-alkanes Anaerobic Aerobic Wax ester 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Wentzel
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Trond E. Ellingsen
    • 2
  • Hans-Kristian Kotlar
    • 3
  • Sergey B. Zotchev
    • 1
  • Mimmi Throne-Holst
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologySINTEF Materials and ChemistryTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Statoil ASA, R&DTrondheimNorway

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