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Research Journal of Microbiology
Year: 2007  |  Volume: 2  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 415 - 425

Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Hydrocarbon-Degrading Bacteria and Fungi in Qua Iboe Estuary, Nigeria

M.G. Ekpenyong, S.P. Antai and J.P. Essien    

Abstract: The number (quantity) and nature (quality) of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria and fungi in Qua Iboe estuary, Nigeria and their biodegradation potentials were assessed in this study to ascertain the estuary’s inherent capacity for natural attenuation following an oil spill. Water and sediment samples collected 9 months after a minor oil spill revealed, upon analysis that the fraction of total heterotrophic microorganisms that could utilize crude oil as sole source of carbon and energy was up to 64% in sediments and 15% in near shore waters. There was significant correlation (r = 0.78; p<0.05) between total hydrocarbon content (THC) and percentage abundance of hydrocarbon utilizers in the samples. Different taxonomic and physiological groups of bacteria, yeast and mold were identified. Their carbon dioxide evolution potentials as groups, in terms of rate and extent of evolution, were only marginally better than those from their constituent pure culture studies. A pH-dependent periodic succession of these groups and their species was observed during the study. From the foregoing therefore, Qua Iboe estuary has a great capacity to self-purify in the event of an oil spill and such natural attenuation might even be more environment-friendly than other remediation protocols particularly bioaugmentation.

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