The direct role of aerobic heterotrophic bacteria associated with cyanobacteria in the degradation of oil compounds

Raeid M.M. Abed*, Jürgen Köster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed at evaluating the role of cyanobacteria and their associated aerobic heterotrophic bacteria in biodegradation of petroleum compounds. We investigated the potential of ten non-axenic typical mat-forming cyanobacterial strains to degrade phenanthrene, pristane, n-octadecane, and dibenzothiophene. Five strains (Aphanothece halophyletica, Dactyolococcopsis salina, Halothece strain EPUS, Oscillatoria strain OSC, and Synechocystis strain UNIGA) were able to degrade n-alkanes. In case of the other five strains (Microcoleus chthonoplastes, Oscillatoria sp. MPI 95 OS 01, Halothece strain EPUG, Halomicronema exentricum, and Phormidium strain UNITF) alkanes were not significantly affected. Moderate changes in the concentration of the aromatic compounds were observed for three isolates only. In follow-up experiments with Oscillatoria strain OSC, we demonstrated that the cyanobacteria-associated aerobic heterotrophic bacteria were responsible for the observed biodegradation. The cyanobacteria themselves apparently do not degrade petroleum compounds, but more likely play a significant, indirect role in biodegradation by supporting the growth and activity of the actual degraders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic heterotrophic bacteria
  • Biodegradation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Microbial mats
  • Petroleum compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Biomaterials
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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