Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Research article
13 Apr 2015
Research article |  | 13 Apr 2015

Distribution of PAHs and the PAH-degrading bacteria in the deep-sea sediments of the high-latitude Arctic Ocean

C. Dong, X. Bai, H. Sheng, L. Jiao, H. Zhou, and Z. Shao

Abstract. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are common organic pollutants that can be transferred long distances and tend to accumulate in marine sediments. However, less is known regarding the distribution of PAHs and their natural bioattenuation in the open sea, especially the Arctic Ocean. In this report, sediment samples were collected at four sites from the Chukchi Plateau to the Makarov Basin in the summer of 2010. PAH compositions and total concentrations were examined with GC-MS. The concentrations of 16 EPA-priority PAHs varied from 2.0 to 41.6 ng g−1 dry weight and decreased with sediment depth and movement from the southern to the northern sites. Among the targeted PAHs, phenanthrene was relatively abundant in all sediments. The 16S rRNA gene of the total environmental DNA was analyzed with Illumina high-throughput sequencing (IHTS) to determine the diversity of bacteria involved in PAH degradation in situ. The potential degraders including Cycloclasticus, Pseudomonas, Halomonas, Pseudoalteromonas, Marinomonas, Bacillus, Dietzia, Colwellia, Acinetobacter, Alcanivorax, Salinisphaera and Shewanella, with Dietzia as the most abundant, occurred in all sediment samples. Meanwhile, enrichment with PAHs was initiated onboard and transferred to the laboratory for further enrichment and to obtain the degrading consortia. Most of the abovementioned bacteria in addition to Hahella, Oleispira, Oceanobacter and Hyphomonas occurred alternately as predominant members in the enrichment cultures from different sediments based on IHTS and PCR-DGGE analysis. To reconfirm their role in PAH degradation, 40 different bacteria were isolated and characterized, among which Cycloclasticus Pseudomonas showed the best degradation capability under low temperatures. Taken together, PAHs and PAH-degrading bacteria were widespread in the deep-sea sediments of the Arctic Ocean. We propose that bacteria of Cycloclasticus, Pseudomonas, Pseudoalteromonas, Halomonas, Marinomonas and Dietzia may play the most important role in PAH mineralization in situ.

Final-revised paper