Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 7, pp 3321–3336 | Cite as

Key high molecular weight PAH-degrading bacteria in a soil consortium enriched using a sand-in-liquid microcosm system

  • Margalida Tauler
  • Joaquim Vila
  • José María Nieto
  • Magdalena GrifollEmail author
Environmental biotechnology


A novel biphasic system containing mineral medium and sand coated with a biologically weathered creosote-PAH mixture was developed to specifically enrich the high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (HMW PAH)-degrading community from a creosote-polluted soil. This consortium (UBHP) removed 70 % of the total HMW PAHs and their alkyl-derivatives in 12 weeks. Based on a combined culture-dependent/independent approach, including clone library analysis, detection of catabolic genes, metabolomic profiles, and characterization of bacterial isolates, 10 phylotypes corresponding to five major genera (Sphingobium, Sphingomonas, Achromobacter, Pseudomonas, and Mycobacterium) were pointed out as key players within the community. In response to exposure to different single PAHs, members of sphingomonads were associated to the utilization of phenanthrene, fluoranthene, benzo[a]anthracene, and chrysene, while the degradation of pyrene was mainly associated to low-abundance mycobacteria. In addition to them, a number of uncultured phylotypes were detected, being of special relevance a group of Gammaproteobacteria closely related to a group previously associated with pyrene degradation that were here related to benzo(a)anthracene degradation. The overall environmental relevance of these phylotypes was confirmed by pyrosequencing analysis of the microbial community shift in the creosote-polluted soil during a lab-scale biostimulation.


PAHs Biodegradation Microbial community analysis Microbial consortium Polluted soil 



During the writing of this manuscript, our funding included two grants (CGL2010-22068-C02-02, CGL2013-44554-R) and a fellowship (to M.T., BES-2011-045106) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The authors are members of the Xarxa de Referencia d’R+D+I en Biotecnologia (XRB) of the Generalitat de Catalunya. We are grateful to Asunción Marín (Scientific and Technological Centers of the University of Barcelona) for the acquisition of GC-MS data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


This study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant numbers CGL2010-22,068-C02-02 and CGL2013-44,554-R; and fellowship to M.T. number BES-2011-045,106).

Conflict of interest

Margalida Tauler declares that she has no conflict of interest. Joaquim Vila declares that he has no conflict of interest. José Maria Nieto declares that he has no conflict of interest. Magdalena Grifoll declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2015_7195_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (387 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 386 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margalida Tauler
    • 1
  • Joaquim Vila
    • 1
  • José María Nieto
    • 1
  • Magdalena Grifoll
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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