Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 615–627 | Cite as

Bacterial communities fluctuate in abundance and diversity under simulated oil-contaminated seawater conditions

  • Xiaohong Li
  • Cai You
  • Liang Qu
  • Bin Zhou
  • Xuexi Tang
  • Hui XiaoEmail author


Marine bacteria have recently been identified as a potent solution for petroleum hydrocarbon degradation in response to hazardous oceanic oil spills. In this study, a mesocosm experiment simulating a petroleum spill event was performed to investigate changes in the abundance, structure, and productivity of bacterial communities in response to oil pollution. Cultured heterotrophic bacteria and total bacteria showed a consistent trend involving an immediate decrease in abundance, followed by a slight increase, and a steady low-level thereafter. However, the changing trend of bacterial productivity based on bacterial biomass and bacterial volume showed the opposite trend. In addition, the density of oil-degrading bacteria increased initially, then subsequently declined. The change in the bacterial community structure at day 0 and day 28 were also analyzed by amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA), which indicated that the species diversity of the bacterial community changed greatly after oil pollution. Alphaproteobacteria (40.98%) replaced Epsilonproteobacteria (51.10%) as the most abundant class, and Gammaproteobacteria (38.80%) became the second most dominant class in the whole bacterial community. The bacterial communities in oil-contaminated seawater (32 genera) became much more complex than those found in the natural seawater sample (16 genera). The proportion of petroleum-degrading bacteria in the oil-contaminated seawater also increased. In this study, culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches were combined to elucidate changes in both bacterial productivity and community structure. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of the role that bacteria play in material cycling and degradation in response to oil pollution.


petroleum pollution bacterial community bacterial growth amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohong Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cai You
    • 3
  • Liang Qu
    • 4
  • Bin Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xuexi Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hui Xiao
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Marine Life SciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental ScienceQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  4. 4.CNOOC LimitedTianjin BranchTianjinChina

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