Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 85, Issue 4, pp 1189–1199 | Cite as

Characterisation of hexane-degrading microorganisms in a biofilter by stable isotope-based fatty acid analysis, FISH and cultivation

Environmental Biotechnology


The hexane-degrading bacterial community of a biofilter was characterised by a combination of stable isotope-based phospholipid fatty acid analyses, fluorescence in situ hybridisation and cultivation. About 70 bacterial strains were isolated from a full-scale biofilter used for treatment of hexane containing waste gas of an oil mill. The isolation approach led to 16 bacterial groups, which were identified as members of the Alpha-, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. Three groups showed good growth on hexane as the sole source of carbon. These groups were allocated to the genera Gordonia and Sphingomonas and to the Nevskia-branch of the Gammaproteobacteria. Actively degrading populations in the filter material were characterised by incubation of filter material samples with deuterated hexane and subsequent phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Significant labelling of the fatty acids 16:1 cis10, 18:1 cis9 and 18:0 10methyl affiliated the hexane-degrading activity of the biofilter with the isolates of the genus Gordonia. In vitro growth on hexane and in situ labelling of characteristic fatty acids confirmed the central role of these organisms in the hexane degradation within the full-scale biofilter.


Biofilter Hexane PLFA FISH 



We would like to thank Dr. Ritter (Brökelmann & Co, Hamm, Germany) for supporting the sampling of the full-scale biofilter.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abteilung Mikrobiologie, Fachbereich Biologie/ChemieUniversität OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany
  2. 2.Abteilung Lebensmittelmikrobiologie und –hygiene, Institut für Ernährungs- und LebensmittelwissenschaftenRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Flensburg University of Applied SciencesFlensburgGermany

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