Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 176, Issue 3, pp 670–699 | Cite as

A Comprehensive Review of Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Biodegradation by Bacteria

  • Firouz AbbasianEmail author
  • Robin Lockington
  • Megharaj Mallavarapu
  • Ravi Naidu


Hydrocarbons are relatively recalcitrant compounds and are classified as high-priority pollutants. However, these compounds are slowly degraded by a large variety of microorganisms. Bacteria are able to degrade aliphatic saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons via both aerobic and anaerobic pathways. Branched hydrocarbons and cyclic hydrocarbons are also degraded by bacteria. The aerobic bacteria use different types of oxygenases, including monooxygenase, cytochrome-dependent oxygenase and dioxygenase, to insert one or two atoms of oxygen into their targets. Anaerobic bacteria, on the other hand, employ a variety of simple organic and inorganic molecules, including sulphate, nitrate, carbonate and metals, for hydrocarbon oxidation.


Aliphatic hydrocarbons Metabolism Anaerobic bacteria Aerobic bacteria 



The authors are very grateful to the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation (CERAR) located in University of South Australia (UniSA) for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Firouz Abbasian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robin Lockington
    • 1
  • Megharaj Mallavarapu
    • 1
  • Ravi Naidu
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation (CERAR), Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of South Australia (UniSA)AdelaideAustralia

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