The contamination of the environment by crude oil and its by-products, mainly composed of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, is a widespread problem. Biodegradation by bacteria is one of the processes responsible for the removal of these pollutants. This study was conducted to determine the abilities of Burkholderia sp. B5, Cupriavidus sp. B1, Pseudomonas sp. T1, and another Cupriavidus sp. X5 to degrade binary mixtures of octane (representing aliphatic hydrocarbons) with benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, or xylene (BTEX as aromatic hydrocarbons) at a final concentration of 100 ppm under aerobic conditions. These strains were isolated from an enriched bacterial consortium (Yabase or Y consortium) that prefer to degrade aromatic hydrocarbon over aliphatic hydrocarbons. We found that B5 degraded all BTEX compounds more rapidly than octane. In contrast, B1, T1 and X5 utilized more of octane over BTX compounds. B5 also preferred to use benzene over octane with varying concentrations of up to 200 mg/l. B5 possesses alkane hydroxylase (alkB) and catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23D) genes, which are responsible for the degradation of alkanes and aromatic hydrocarbons, respectively. This study strongly supports our notion that Burkholderia played a key role in the preferential degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons over aliphatic hydrocarbons in the previously characterized Y consortium. The preferential degradation of more toxic aromatic hydrocarbons over aliphatics is crucial in risk-based bioremediation.
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