Polar Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 10, pp 1565–1574 | Cite as

Biosurfactant production by Arctic and Antarctic bacteria growing on hydrocarbons

  • Roberta Malavenda
  • Carmen Rizzo
  • Luigi Michaud
  • Berna Gerçe
  • Vivia Bruni
  • Christoph Syldatk
  • Rudolf Hausmann
  • Angelina Lo Giudice
Original Paper


The risk of hydrocarbon contamination in marine polar areas is constantly increasing. Autochthonous bacteria, due to their ability to cope and survive under extreme environmental conditions, can play a fundamental role in the hydrocarbon degradation. The degradation process is often enhanced by the production of biosurfactant molecules. The present study reports for the first time on the isolation of biosurfactant-producing bacteria from Arctic and Antarctic shoreline sediments. A total of 199 psychrotolerant bacterial isolates were obtained from hydrocarbon-amended (with crude or diesel oil) microcosms. A total of 18 isolates were selected for their ability to grow in the presence of crude oil and produce biosurfactants, as it was revealed by the production of good E24 values (≥50 %) and/or reduction in the surface tension (under 30 mN/m). The positive response of the isolates to both tests suggests a possible production of biosurfactants with emulsifying and interfacial activities. Biosurfactant-producing isolates were mainly affiliated to the genera Rhodococcus (14 isolates), followed by Pseudomonas (two isolates), Pseudoalteromonas (one isolate) and Idiomarina (one isolate). Thin-layer chromatography of biosurfactant crude extracts revealed that the majority of the selected isolates were able to produce glycolipidic surfactants. Our results enlarge the knowledge, which is still poor and fragmentary, on biosurfactant producers from polar areas and indicate marine polar sediments as a source of bacteria with potential applications in the remediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated cold environments.


Arctic and Antarctic sediment Biosurfactants Hydrocarbons Bacterial isolates 



ALG wishes to thank the Antarctic Project “Limnopolar” (POL2006-06635) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, and all colleagues at the Byers camp for their logistic and friendly support to Luigi Michaud during his stay. RM wishes to thank all the colleagues at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Germany, for assistance and support during her stay in their lab. This research was supported by grants by the project PolyArc (grant number ARCFAC-026129-2008-70) and the National Antarctic Museum (MNA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Malavenda
    • 1
  • Carmen Rizzo
    • 1
  • Luigi Michaud
    • 1
  • Berna Gerçe
    • 2
  • Vivia Bruni
    • 1
  • Christoph Syldatk
    • 2
  • Rudolf Hausmann
    • 3
  • Angelina Lo Giudice
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Process Engineering in Life Sciences, Section II: Technical BiologyKarlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)KarlsruheGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Food Science and Biotechnology, Section Bioprocess EngineeringUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  4. 4.Institute for the Coastal Marine EnvironmentNational Research Council (IAMC-CNR)MessinaItaly

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