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Characterization of culturable heterotrophic bacteria in hydrocarbon-contaminated soil from an alpine former military site

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We characterized the culturable, heterotrophic bacterial community in soil collected from a former alpine military site contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. The physiologically active eubacterial community, as revealed by fluorescence-in situ-hybridization, accounted for 14.9 % of the total (DAPI-stained) bacterial community. 4.0 and 1.2 % of the DAPI-stained cells could be attributed to culturable, heterotrophic bacteria able to grow at 20 and 10 °C, respectively. The majority of culturable bacterial isolates (23/28 strains) belonged to the Proteobacteria with a predominance of Alphaproteobacteria. The remaining isolates were affiliated with the Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Five strains could be identified as representatives of novel species. Characterization of the 28 strains demonstrated their adaptation to the temperature and nutrient conditions prevailing in the studied soil. One-third of the strains was able to grow at subzero temperatures (−5 °C). Studies on the effect of temperature on growth and lipase production with two selected strains demonstrated their low-temperature adaptation.

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This study was supported by a grant from the “Autonome Provinz Bozen, Südtirol”, Amt für Geologie und Baustoffprüfung. We thank P. Thurnbichler, J. Mair and S. Kasenbacher for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Rosa Margesin.

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Zhang, D., Margesin, R. Characterization of culturable heterotrophic bacteria in hydrocarbon-contaminated soil from an alpine former military site. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 30, 1717–1724 (2014).

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  • Alpine
  • Soil
  • Culturable bacteria
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Lipase