Distribution of Hydrocarbon Degradation Pathways in the Sea

  • Rafael Bargiela
  • Michail M Yakimov
  • Peter N Golyshin
  • Manuel Ferrer
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Petroleum hydrocarbons are one of the most persistent and complex pollutants discharged to environment as a consequence of the human activity, significantly affecting marine and coastal habitats. Some members of microbial communities inhabiting marine ecosystems show the ability to use these hydrocarbons as a preferential carbon source. These compounds are metabolized through different catabolic pathways , leading to their total or partial degradation. Microorganisms are the first responsive component of marine ecosystem after an oil spill. Their contribution may be different depending on the environmental conditions, baseline community setup, and oil composition. Here, we describe how these hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria behave in the marine environment after an oil spill and report on main pathways involved in the degradation of the different hydrocarbons, with a particular focus in the Mediterranean and Red Sea and the Gulf of Mexico as examples.


Microbial Community Anaerobic Degradation Catabolic Gene Hydrocarbon Degradation Gene alkB 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the European Community projects KILL-SPILL (FP7-KBBE-2012-312139), MAGICPAH (FP7-KBBE-2009-245226), and ULIXES (FP7-KBBE-2010-266473). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program [Blue Growth: Unlocking the potential of Seas and Oceans] under grant agreement No [634486]. This work was further funded by grants BIO2011-25012, PCIN-2014-107 (within the ERA NET-IB2 program), and BIO2014-54494-R from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael Bargiela
    • 1
  • Michail M Yakimov
    • 2
    • 3
  • Peter N Golyshin
    • 3
    • 4
  • Manuel Ferrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Catalysis, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Institute for Coastal Marine Environment, CNRMessinaItaly
  3. 3.Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal UniversityKaliningradRussia
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of BangorBangor, GwyneddUK

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