Alcanivorax dieselolei, an alkane-degrading bacterium associated with the mucus of the zoanthid Palythoa caribaeorum (Cnidaria, Anthozoa)

Alcanivorax dieselolei, uma bactéria degradadora de alcanos associada ao muco do zoantídeo Palythoa caribaeorum (Cnidaria, Anthozoa)

FF. Campos JE. Garcia CL. Luna-Finkler CC. Davolos MVF. Lemos CD. Pérez About the authors

Abstracts

Analyses of 16S rDNA genes were used to identify the microbiota isolated from the mucus of the zoanthid Palythoa caribaeorum at Porto de Galinhas on the coast of Pernambuco State, Brazil. This study is important as the first report of this association, because of the potential biotechnological applications of the bacterium Alcanivorax dieselolei, and as evidence for the presence of a hydrocarbon degrading bacterium in a reef ecosystem such as Porto de Galinhas.

16S rDNA; microbiota; biodegradation; hydrocarbons; cnidarians


Análises dos genes 16S rDNA foram empregadas para identificar a microbiota isolada do muco do zoantídeo Palythoa caribaeorum de Porto de Galinhas, litoral do estado de Pernambuco, Brasil. Este estudo é importante pelo ineditismo dessa associação, pelas relevantes aplicações biotecnológicas da bactéria Alcanivorax dieselolei e pela indicação da presença de uma bactéria degradadora de hidrocarbonetos em um ecossistema recifal como o de Porto de Galinhas.

Palvras-chave: 16S rDNA; microbiota; biodegradação; hidrocarbonetos; cnidários


1 Introduction

Coral reefs are complex ecosystems that provide microniches for enormous diversities of microorganisms (Ainsworth et al., 2010Ainsworth, TD., Thurber, RV. and Gates, RD., 2010. The future of coral reefs: a microbial perspective. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 25, no. 4, p. 233-240. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.11.001. PMid:20006405
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.11...
) associated with marine invertebrates such as sponges, cnidarians, and mollusks (Sfanos et al., 2005Sfanos, K., Harmody, D., Dang, P., Ledger, A., Pomponi, S., McCarthy, P. and Lopez, J., 2005. A molecular systematic survey of cultured microbial associates of deep-water marine invertebrates. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, vol. 28, no. 3, p. 242-264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2004.12.002. PMid:15900971
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2004.1...
). Cnidarians, especially corals, have many microorganisms associated with their tissues and mucus (Rohwer et al., 2002Rohwer, F., Seguritan, V., Azam, F. and Knowlton, N., 2002. Diversity and distribution of coral associated bacteria. Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 243, p. 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps243001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps243001...
; Chimetto et al., 2009Chimetto, LA., Brocchi, M., Gondo, M., Thompson, CC., Gomez-Gil, B. and Thompson, FL., 2009. Genomic diversity of vibrios associated with the Brazilian coral Mussismilia hispida and its sympatric zoanthids (Palythoa caribaeorum, Palythoa variabilis and ). Zoanthus solanderiJournal of Applied Microbiology, vol. 106, no. 6, p. 1818-1826. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2009.04149.x. PMid:19291243
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.20...
; Castro et al., 2010Castro, AP., Araújo JUNIOR, SD., Reis, AMM., Moura, RL., Francini-Filho, RB., Pappas JUNIOR, G., Rodrigues, TB., Thompson, FL. and Krüger, RH., 2010. Bacterial community associated with healthy and diseased reef coral Mussismilia hispida from eastern Brazil. Microbial Ecology, vol. 59, no. 4, p. 658-667. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-010-9646-1. PMid:20352207
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-010-964...
). Coral mucus – a micro-layer of polysaccharides and glycoproteins deposited over the surfaces of these animals – has been found to contain representatives of the three primary domains Archaea, Eubacteria and Eukarya (Meikle et al., 1988Meikle, P., RICHARDS, GN. and YELLOWLEES, D., 1988. Structural investigations on the mucus from six species of coral. Marine Biology, vol. 99, no. 2, p. 187-193. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00391980.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00391980...
; Wegley et al., 2007Wegley, L., Edwards, R., Rodriguez-Brito, B., Liu, H. and Rohwer, F., 2007. Metagenomic analysis of the microbial community associated with the coral Porites astreoides. Environmental Microbiology, vol. 9, no. 11, p. 2707-2719. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1462-2920.2007.01383.x. PMid:17922755
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1462-2920.20...
).

While a number of workers studies have examined the microbiota associated with corals and other marine invertebrates (Castro et al., 2010Castro, AP., Araújo JUNIOR, SD., Reis, AMM., Moura, RL., Francini-Filho, RB., Pappas JUNIOR, G., Rodrigues, TB., Thompson, FL. and Krüger, RH., 2010. Bacterial community associated with healthy and diseased reef coral Mussismilia hispida from eastern Brazil. Microbial Ecology, vol. 59, no. 4, p. 658-667. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-010-9646-1. PMid:20352207
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00248-010-964...
; Menezes et al., 2010Menezes, CBA., Bonugli-Santos, RC., Miqueletto, PB., Passarini, MRZ., Silva, CHD., Justo, MR., Leal, RR., Fantinatti-Garboggini, F., Oliveira, VM., Berlinck, RGS. and Sette, LD., 2010. Microbial diversity associated with algae, ascidians and sponges from the north coast of São Paulo state, Brazil. Microbiological Research, vol. 165, no. 6, p. 466-482. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2009.09.005. PMid:19879115
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2009....
; Trindade-Silva et al., 2012Trindade-Silva, AE., Rua, C., Silva, GGZ., Dutilh, BE., Moreira, APB., Edwards, RA., Hajdu, E., Lobo-Hajdu, G., Vasconcelos, AT., Berlinck, RGS. and Thompson, FL., 2012. Taxonomic and functional microbial signatures of the endemic marine sponge Arenosclera brasiliensis. PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 7, p. e39905. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039905. PMid:22768320
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0...
), zoanthids have been little examined in that respect, although some investigations of the diversity of bacteria found on zoanthids by Chimetto et al. (2008Chimetto, LA., Brocchi, M., Thompson, CC., Martins, RCR., Ramos, HR. and Thompson, FL., 2008. Vibrios dominate as culturable nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the Brazilian coral . Mussismilia hispidaSystematic and Applied Microbiology, vol. 31, no. 4, p. 312-319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2008.06.001. PMid:18678453
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2008.0...
, 2009Chimetto, LA., Brocchi, M., Gondo, M., Thompson, CC., Gomez-Gil, B. and Thompson, FL., 2009. Genomic diversity of vibrios associated with the Brazilian coral Mussismilia hispida and its sympatric zoanthids (Palythoa caribaeorum, Palythoa variabilis and ). Zoanthus solanderiJournal of Applied Microbiology, vol. 106, no. 6, p. 1818-1826. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2009.04149.x. PMid:19291243
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.20...
, 2011Chimetto, LA., Cleenwerck, I., Alves JUNIOR, N., Silva, BS., Brocchi, M., Willems, A., De Vos, P. and Thompson, FL., 2011. Vibrio communis sp. nov., isolated from the marine animals Mussismilia hispida, , . Phyllogorgia dilatataPalythoa caribaeorum, Palythoa variabilis and Litopenaeus vannameiInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 61, no. 2, p. 362-368. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.019729-0. PMid:20305064
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.019729-0...
) identified 16S rDNA sequences of bacteria of the genus Vibrio.

The zoanthid Palythoa caribaeorum (Duchassaing and Michelotti, 1860) is a cnidarian commonly found on reefs in the Caribbean region and Brazil (Mueller and Haywick, 1995MUELLER, E. and HAYWICK, DW., 1995. Sediment assimilation and calcification by the Western Atlantic reef zoanthid, Palythoa caribaeorum.Bulletin de l'Institut Oceanographique, vol. 14, p. 89-100.). It can form dense layers on reefs as it is a strong competitor for space (Pérez et al., 2005PÉREZ, CD., VILA-NOVA, DA. and SANTOS, AM., 2005. Associated community with the zoanthid (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1860) (Cnidaria, Anthozoa) from littoral of Pernambuco, Brazil. Palythoa caribaeorumHydrobiologia, vol. 548, no. 1, p. 207-215. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-005-5441-2.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-005-544...
), is tolerant of environmental stresses (Sebens, 1982SEBENS, KP, 1982. Intertidal distribution of zoanthids on the Caribbean coast of Panama: effects of predation and dessication. Bulletin of Marine Science, vol. 32, p. 316-335.), demonstrates a high reproductive capacity (Acosta and Asbahr, 2000Acosta, A. and Asbahr, M., 2000. Reproductive effort in Palythoa caribaeorum. In Proceedings of the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium, 2000. Bali. Bali: ICRS. p. 295.), and liberates a potent non-protein toxin called palytoxin (Seemann et al., 2009SEEMANN, P., Gernert, C., Schmitt, S., Mebs, D. and Hentschel, U., 2009. Detection of hemolytic bacteria from Palythoa caribaeorum (Cnidaria, Zoantharia) using a novel palytoxin-screening assay. Antonie Leeuwenhoek International Journal of Micobiology, vol. 96, no. 4, p. 405-411. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10482-009-9353-4.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10482-009-935...
).This cnidarian is popularly known as “baba-de-boi” (“cattle spittle”) as it secretes a very viscous mucus over the surface of the colony during low tides that can shelter other marine microorganisms (Ainsworth et al., 2010Ainsworth, TD., Thurber, RV. and Gates, RD., 2010. The future of coral reefs: a microbial perspective. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 25, no. 4, p. 233-240. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.11.001. PMid:20006405
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.11...
).

The bacterium Alcanivorax dieselolei was originally isolated from seawater samples and marine sediments contaminated by oil in the Pacific Ocean and described by Liu and Shao (2005)Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2005. Alcanivorax dieselolei sp. nov., a novel alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from sea water and deep-sea sediment. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 55, no. Pt 3, p. 1181-1186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0. PMid:15879252
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0...
. These bacteria, as well as other species of the same genus, predominate in temperate marine environments impacted by oil (Cappello et al., 2007Cappello, S., Denaro, R., Genovese, M., Giuliano, L. and Yakimov, MM., 2007. Predominant growth of Alcanivorax during experiments on “oil spill bioremediation” in mesocosms. Microbiological Research, vol. 162, no. 2, p. 185-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006.05.010. PMid:16831537
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006....
).

The present work represents the first record of A. dieselolei, a specie capable of degrading petroleum derivatives, in the Atlantic Ocean and associated with the zoanthid P. caribaeorum. The potential biotechnological applications of the bacterium are discussed.

2 Material and Methods

Mucus was collected from exposed reef colonies of P. caribaeorum (Figure 1) during low tide periods in May/2010 at Porto de Galinhas on the southern coast of Pernambuco State, Brazil (8°30’24’’S; 34°59’52’’W) (Figure 2). Mucus samples were scraped and placed in sterile 50 mL centrifuge tubes. Heterotrophic bacteria were isolated from the mucus by inoculating 2 mL of the collected mucus onto Marine Agar 2216 (Difco®) using the pour plate technique and incubating the cultures at 30 °C for five days.

Figure 1
Colony of zoanthid Palythoa caribaeorum (Photo: Liany Melo).
Figure 2
Map of the coast of the state of Pernambuco indicating the collection point.

DNA was extracted from individual bacterial colonies using the thermal shock technique, in which a small quantity of material from each colony was collected and resuspended in 100 µl of ultrapure sterilized water, exposed to temperatures of 98 °C for 10 min. and –20 °C for 10 min. and subsequently centrifuged; the supernatants were transferred to sterile tubes.

The total DNA from each sample was used as a template for amplifying the 16S rDNA segments of Eubacteria using the primers 27F (5’ AGA GTT TGA TCM TGG CTC AG 3’) and 1492R (5’ TAC GCY TAC CTT GTT ACG ACT T 3’) (Rohwer et al., 2002Rohwer, F., Seguritan, V., Azam, F. and Knowlton, N., 2002. Diversity and distribution of coral associated bacteria. Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 243, p. 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps243001.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps243001...
). The PCR reactions were performed in a final volume of 50 µl that included: 50 ng of the template DNA, 10 pmol of each primer, 200 µM dNTPs, 5 µl PCR buffer, 5 U of Taq polymerase for DNA (Fermentas®), and 22 µl of ultrapure sterilized water. The thermocycler program consisted of: (1) 5 minutes at 94 °C; (2) 30 cycles of 1 minute at 94 °C, 1 minute at 62 °C, and 3 minutes at 72 °C, and; (3) 10 minutes at 72 °C. The PCR products were purified using the QIAquick PCR Purification kit (QIAGEN®).

The sequencing reactions were performed using BigDye® (ABI) and DYEnamic ET (Amersham Biosciences®) chemistry for the ABI Prism (Model 3100). The reactions were performed in a final volume of 10 µl containing: 100 ng of template DNA (the amplification products), 2 µl of marked nucleotides, 25X PCR buffer (20 mM Tris-HCl pH=8.4), 25 pmoles of each primer (forward and reverse), and previously sterilized Milli-Q water (q.s.p. 20 μl). These reactions were performed using the same program described above for the PCR reactions.

The qualities of the resulting DNA sequences were evaluated using Sequencing Analysis 3.4 software (Applied Biosystems®, Foster City, CA, EUA). The sequences were submitted to nucleotide similarity consultations of the data available at GenBank, on the the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) web site using the BLASTn algorithm (Altschul et al., 1990Altschul, SF., Gish, W., Miller, W., Myers, EW. and Lipman, DJ., 1990. Basic local alignment search tool. Journal of Molecular Biology, vol. 215, no. 3, p. 403-410. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0022-2836(05)80360-2. PMid:2231712
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0022-2836(05)...
).

3 Results and Discussion

Fifty bacterial isolates were obtained from the mucus of P. caribaeorum collected on reefs in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco State, Brazil. The dominant group among the isolated bacteria was γ-Proteobacteria, with 36 isolates (72%), followed by α-Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria with six isolates each (12%), and Firmicutes with two isolates (4%); one isolate of A. dieselolei was encountered among the γ-Proteobacteria. Comparisons of the nucleotide sequence of the 16S rDNA gene of the bacterium isolated from P. caribaeorum mucus with sequences deposited in the GenBank indicated similarities 100% with the sequences of the group that performed the complete genome sequence of A. dieselolei Type Strain B5 (Lai et al., 2012Lai, Q., Li, W. and Shao, Z., 2012. Complete genome sequence of type strain B5. Alcanivorax dieseloleiJournal of Bacteriology, vol. 194, no. 23, p. 6674. http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.01813-12. PMid:23144414
http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.01813-12...
). The nucleotide sequence was deposited in GenBank with the accession number KF545933.

We therefore report here the first known association of the bacteria A. dieselolei with the zoanthid P. caribaeorum. Sequences of this bacteria had only previously been obtained from seawater and marine sediment samples (Liu and Shao, 2005Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2005. Alcanivorax dieselolei sp. nov., a novel alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from sea water and deep-sea sediment. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 55, no. Pt 3, p. 1181-1186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0. PMid:15879252
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0...
; Tapilatu et al., 2010Tapilatu, Y., Acquaviva, M., Guigue, C., Miralles, G., Bertrand, JC. and Cuny, P., 2010. Isolation of alkane-degrading bacteria from deep-sea Mediterranean sediments. Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 50, no. 2, p. 234-236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-765X.2009.02766.x. PMid:19943883
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-765X.20...
), as is true for most of the other isolates and 16S rRNA gene sequences of other bacterial strains of the genus Alcanivorax (Liu and Shao, 2005Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2005. Alcanivorax dieselolei sp. nov., a novel alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from sea water and deep-sea sediment. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 55, no. Pt 3, p. 1181-1186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0. PMid:15879252
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0...
; Cappello et al., 2007Cappello, S., Denaro, R., Genovese, M., Giuliano, L. and Yakimov, MM., 2007. Predominant growth of Alcanivorax during experiments on “oil spill bioremediation” in mesocosms. Microbiological Research, vol. 162, no. 2, p. 185-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006.05.010. PMid:16831537
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006....
; Rivas et al., 2007Rivas, R., García-Fraile, P., Peix, A., Mateos, PF., Martínez-Molina, E. and Velázquez, E., 2007. Alcanivorax balearicus sp. nov., isolated from Lake Martel. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 57, no. 6, p. 1331-1335. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.64912-0. PMid:17551053
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.64912-0...
; Wu et al., 2009Wu, Y., Lai, Q., Zhou, Z., Qiao, N., Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2009. Alcanivorax hongdengensis sp. nov., an alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from surface seawater of the straits of Malacca and Singapore, producing a lipopeptide as its biosurfactant. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 59, no. 6, p. 1474-1479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.001552-0. PMid:19502338
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.001552-0...
). Some presently non-identified strains of the genus Alcanivorax have been isolated from marine invertebrates such as sponges and gorgonians (Sfanos et al., 2005Sfanos, K., Harmody, D., Dang, P., Ledger, A., Pomponi, S., McCarthy, P. and Lopez, J., 2005. A molecular systematic survey of cultured microbial associates of deep-water marine invertebrates. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, vol. 28, no. 3, p. 242-264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2004.12.002. PMid:15900971
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2004.1...
), but our current report is the first record of any association between A. dieselolei and P. caribaeorum, and its first reported occurrence in the Atlantic Ocean.

Among the hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria, the genus Alcanivorax comprises Gram-negative, aerobic, and halophytic species that have the capacity to metabolize alkanes hydrocarbons as a carbon source and for energy and have been used in bioremediation projects in polluted marine environments (Yakimov et al., 1998YAKIMOV, MM., GOLYSHIN, PN., LANG, S., MOORE, ERB., ABRAHAM, WR., LÜNSDORF, H. and TIMMIS, KN., 1998. Alcanivorax borkumensis gen. nov., sp. nov., a new hydrocarbon-degrading and surfactant-producing marine bacterium. International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, vol. 48, no. 2, p. 339-348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/00207713-48-2-339.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/00207713-48-2-...
; Liu and Shao, 2005Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2005. Alcanivorax dieselolei sp. nov., a novel alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from sea water and deep-sea sediment. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 55, no. Pt 3, p. 1181-1186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0. PMid:15879252
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0...
). The genus Alcanivorax comprises six described species: Alcanivorax borkumensis (Yakimov et al., 1998YAKIMOV, MM., GOLYSHIN, PN., LANG, S., MOORE, ERB., ABRAHAM, WR., LÜNSDORF, H. and TIMMIS, KN., 1998. Alcanivorax borkumensis gen. nov., sp. nov., a new hydrocarbon-degrading and surfactant-producing marine bacterium. International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, vol. 48, no. 2, p. 339-348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/00207713-48-2-339.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/00207713-48-2-...
), Alcanivorax venustensis, Alcanivorax jadensis (Fernández-Martínez, 2003), Alcanivorax dieselolei (Liu and Shao, 2005Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2005. Alcanivorax dieselolei sp. nov., a novel alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from sea water and deep-sea sediment. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 55, no. Pt 3, p. 1181-1186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0. PMid:15879252
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.63443-0...
), Alcanivorax balearicus (Rivas et al., 2007Rivas, R., García-Fraile, P., Peix, A., Mateos, PF., Martínez-Molina, E. and Velázquez, E., 2007. Alcanivorax balearicus sp. nov., isolated from Lake Martel. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 57, no. 6, p. 1331-1335. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.64912-0. PMid:17551053
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.64912-0...
), and Alcanivorax hongdengensis (Wu et al., 2009Wu, Y., Lai, Q., Zhou, Z., Qiao, N., Liu, C. and Shao, Z., 2009. Alcanivorax hongdengensis sp. nov., an alkane-degrading bacterium isolated from surface seawater of the straits of Malacca and Singapore, producing a lipopeptide as its biosurfactant. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 59, no. 6, p. 1474-1479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.001552-0. PMid:19502338
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.001552-0...
).

The fact that A. dieselolei was isolated from colonies of P. caribaeorum is quite intriguing because, while the beach at Porto de Galinhas has been heavily visited by tourists, it does not appear to be contaminated to any significant degree by petroleum compounds in spite of its proximity to the shipping port at Suape. On the other hand, large numbers of swimmers and divers do visit this beach and use solar protection lotions containing hydrocarbons such as benzophenone, oxybenzone, or parabens. These compounds may serve as energy and carbon sources for bacteria that metabolize only alkanes and reject other carbon resources such as sugars and amino acids (Lorenzo, 2006Lorenzo, V., 2006. Blueprint of an oil-eating bacterium. Nature Biotechnology, vol. 24, no. 8, p. 952-953. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt0806-952. PMid:16900140
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt0806-952...
).

The presence of the bacteria A. dieselolei in P. caribaeorum mucus might also be at least partially explained by the presence of high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen compounds (commonly used in bioremediation projects to break bacterial dormancy) in that milieu (Cappello et al., 2007Cappello, S., Denaro, R., Genovese, M., Giuliano, L. and Yakimov, MM., 2007. Predominant growth of Alcanivorax during experiments on “oil spill bioremediation” in mesocosms. Microbiological Research, vol. 162, no. 2, p. 185-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006.05.010. PMid:16831537
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2006....
). It is also known that bacteria of the genus Vibrio, which can fix nitrogen, are associated with this same zoanthid (Chimetto et al., 2008Chimetto, LA., Brocchi, M., Thompson, CC., Martins, RCR., Ramos, HR. and Thompson, FL., 2008. Vibrios dominate as culturable nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the Brazilian coral . Mussismilia hispidaSystematic and Applied Microbiology, vol. 31, no. 4, p. 312-319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2008.06.001. PMid:18678453
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2008.0...
) so that A. dieselolei may be using these compounds as energy sources as these bacteria show denitrification activity and Alcanivorax strains are known to contribute to the degradation of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds that accumulate in organically enriched coastal areas (Nakano et al., 2009Nakano, M., Okunishi, S., Tanaka, R. and Maeda, H., 2009. Denitrifying activity and homologous enzyme analysis of Alcanivorax dieselolei strain N1203. Biocontrol Science, vol. 14, no. 3, p. 97-105. http://dx.doi.org/10.4265/bio.14.97. PMid:19785282
http://dx.doi.org/10.4265/bio.14.97...
).

Another possible explanation for the presence of this bacterium in association with P. caribaeorum would be the natural production of aliphatic compounds by that animal. According to Yakimov et al. (2007)Yakimov, MM., Timmis, KN. and Golyshin, PN., 2007. Obligate oil-degrading marine bacteria. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, vol. 18, no. 3, p. 257-266. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2007.04.006. PMid:17493798
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2007....
, the isolation of the bacteria A. borkumensis from marine invertebrates may reflect the existence of specific ecological niches containing hydrocarbons produced by those animals themselves. The presence of A. borkumensis in non-polluted environments (Kasai et al., 2001Kasai, Y., Kishira, H., Syutsubo, K. and Harayama, S., 2001. Molecular detection of marine bacterial populations on beaches contaminated by the . Nakhodka tanker oil-spill accidentEnvironmental Microbiology, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 246-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1462-2920.2001.00185.x. PMid:11359510
http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1462-2920.20...
) indicates that A. dieselolei might likewise naturally exist in environments not polluted by oil. It will be necessary to monitor the Porto de Galinhas beach area for possible environmental impacts in any case, as these bacteria can be used as bioindicators of water contamination by either high or low levels of long-chain hydrocarbons (Fernández-Martínez et al., 2003Fernández-Martínez, J., Pujalte, MJ., García-Martínez, J., Mata, M., Garay, E. and Rodríguez-Valeral, F., 2003. Description of Alcanivorax venustensis sp. nov. and reclassification of Fundibacter jadensis DSM 1 21 78T (Bruns and Berthe-Corti 1999) as comb. nov., members of the emended genus . Alcanivorax jadensisAlcanivoraxInternational Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, vol. 53, no. 1, p. 331-338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.01923-0. PMid:12656192
http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/ijs.0.01923-0...
).

Other genera (similarity indices ≥ 97%) with bacterial species with known capabilities to degrade alkanes derived from petroleum were also found associated with the secreted mucus of P. caribaeorum in the present work, including Altererytrobacter, Pseudomonas, Rhodococcus, and Stappia – which is interesting from the point of view of possible biotechnological applications. The present study also represents the first report of the association of these bacteria with the zoanthid P. caribaeorum, a cnidarian that has been only poorly examined in terms of its associated microbiota in spite of its abundance in most reef environments in the western Atlantic.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco for their financial support to research and for the Master’s grant awarded to F.F.C., as well as Dra. Michelle Oliveira for her help in cultivating the bacteria in the laboratory.

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  • (With 2 Figures)

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    May 2015

History

  • Received
    13 Sept 2013
  • Accepted
    20 Jan 2014
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