Alcanivorax borkumensis

Reference work entry


Alcanivorax borkumensis is a marine bacterium that uses exclusively petroleum oil hydrocarbons as sources of carbon and energy (and is therefore designated “hydrocarbonoclastic”). It is found in low numbers in all oceans of the world and becomes abundant in oil-contaminated waters. Its ubiquity, unusual physiology and demonstrated role in biodegradation show that it is globally important in the removal of hydrocarbons from polluted marine systems. Genome sequencing, extensive functional genomic analysis and genome-wide constraint-based modeling of the metabolism Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2 type strain, an outstanding paradigm of hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria, has provided substantial insights into the genomic basis of the efficiency and versatility of its hydrocarbon utilization, nutrient scavenging capabilities, niche-specific stress responses and the metabolic routes and flux distributions underlying its remarkable hydrocarbon utilization abilities. The wealth of information thus far generated provides a solid knowledge-base for the understanding the physiology and ecological success of this fascinating and globally important bacterium and for the design of new strategies to mitigate the ecological damage caused by oil spills.


Glyoxylate Bypass Alkane Hydroxylase Alkane Degradation Hydrocarbonoclastic Bacterium Hydrocarbon Utilization 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Systems and Synthetic Biology Research GroupHelmholtz Center for Infection ResearchBraunschweigGermany
  2. 2.Environmental Microbiology LaboratoryHelmholtz Centre for Infection ResearchBraunschweigGermany
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesBangor UniversityGwyneddUK
  4. 4.Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino CostieroCNRMessinaItaly

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