Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology Protocols

Part of the series Springer Protocols Handbooks pp 263-276


Protocols for Radiotracer Estimation of Primary Hydrocarbon Oxidation in Oxygenated Seawater

  • Ryan SibertAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia
  • , Sarah HarrisonAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia
  • , Samantha B. JoyeAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia Email author 

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Petroleum is a complex mixture of compounds that span a wide range of chemical characteristics. Petroleum is released into the environment naturally via seepage from deep reservoirs and through anthropogenic means, including leaks from small boats, ships, tankers, pipelines, drilling infrastructure, and through accidental platform discharges or well blowouts. Hydrocarbon oxidizing bacteria play a key role in the breakdown and remineralization of petroleum introduced into the environment. A diverse array of microorganisms possess the enzymatic machinery necessary to oxidize petroleum, and in the process, obtain energy for growth, and carbon to build biomass from the cleavage of C–H bonds. However, it is notoriously difficult to quantify degradation rates of hydrocarbons. Here, we present a simple method for determining hydrocarbon oxidation rates in environmental samples, targeting two common hydrocarbons. The method can easily be adapted to assess biodegradation rates of other hydrocarbons.


Hexadecane oxidation Hydrocarbon degradation Naphthalene oxidation Radiotracer rates