Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 803–812 | Cite as

Intracellular Metabolic Changes of Rhodococcus sp. LH During the Biodegradation of Diesel Oil

  • Ze Chen
  • Zhou Zheng
  • Feng-Lian Wang
  • Yuan-Pu Niu
  • Jin-Lai MiaoEmail author
  • Hao LiEmail author
Original Article


In recent years, some marine microbes have been used to degrade diesel oil. However, the exact mechanisms underlying the biodegradation are still poorly understood. In this study, a hypothermophilous marine strain, which can degrade diesel oil in cold seawater was isolated from Antarctic floe-ice and identified and named as Rhodococcus sp. LH. To clarify the biodegradation mechanisms, a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)-based metabolomics strategy was performed to determine the diesel biodegradation process-associated intracellular biochemical changes in Rhodococcus sp. LH cells. With the aid of partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), 17 differential metabolites with variable importance in the projection (VIP) value greater than 1 were identified. Results indicated that the biodegradation of diesel oil by Rhodococcus sp. LH was affected by many different factors. Rhodococcus sp. LH could degrade diesel oil through terminal or sub-terminal oxidation reactions, and might also possess the ability to degrade aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, some surfactants, especially fatty acids, which were secreted by Rhodococcus into medium could also assist the strain in dispersing and absorbing diesel oil. Lack of nitrogen in the seawater would lead to nitrogen starvation, thereby restraining the amino acid circulation in Rhodococcus sp. LH. Moreover, nitrogen starvation could also promote the conversation of relative excess carbon source to storage materials, such as 1-monolinoleoylglycerol. These results would provide a comprehensive understanding about the complex mechanisms of diesel oil biodegradation by Rhodococcus sp. LH at the systematic level.


Diesel oil biodegradation Rhodococcus sp. LH Molecular mechanisms Metabolomics 



Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


Hierarchical cluster analysis


N-methyl-N-(trimethylsilyl) trifluoroacetamide


Principal components analysis


Partial least squares-discriminant analysis


Retention time-mass to charge ratio


Standard error of the mean


Total ion chromatogram


Variable importance in the projection


Funding Information

This work was funded by the Basic Scientific Fund for National Public Research Institutes of China (No. 2016Q10) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41776203).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Bioprocess, College of Life Science and TechnologyBeijing University of Chemical TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.The First Institute of OceanographyState Oceanic AdministrationQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina

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