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Biodegradation, photo-oxidation, and dissolution of petroleum compounds in an Arctic fjord during summer
Vergeynst, L.; Greer, C.W.; Mosbech, A.; Gustavson, K.; Meire, L.; Poulsen, K.G.; Christensen, J.H. (2019). Biodegradation, photo-oxidation, and dissolution of petroleum compounds in an Arctic fjord during summer. Environ. Sci. Technol. 53(21): 12197-12206.
In: Environmental Science and Technology. American Chemical Society: Easton. ISSN 0013-936X; e-ISSN 1520-5851, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Vergeynst, L.
  • Greer, C.W.
  • Mosbech, A.
  • Gustavson, K.
  • Meire, L., meer
  • Poulsen, K.G.
  • Christensen, J.H.

    Increased economic activity in the Arctic may increase the risk of oil spills. Yet, little is known about the degradation of oil spills by solar radiation and the impact of nutrient limitation on oil biodegradation under Arctic conditions. We deployed adsorbents coated with thin oil films for up to 4 months in a fjord in SW Greenland to simulate and investigate in situ biodegradation and photo-oxidation of dispersed oil droplets. Oil compound depletion by dissolution, biodegradation, and photo-oxidation was untangled by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry-based oil fingerprinting. Biodegradation was limited by low nutrient concentrations, reaching 97% removal of nC13–26-alkanes only after 112 days. Sequencing of bacterial DNA showed the slow development of a bacterial biofilm on the oil films predominated by the known oil degrading bacteria Oleispira, Alkanindiges and Cycloclasticus. These taxa could be related to biodegradation of shorter-chain (≤C26) alkanes, longer-chain (≥C16) and branched alkanes, and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), respectively. The combination of biodegradation, dissolution, and photo-oxidation depleted most PACs at substantially faster rates than the biodegradation of alkanes. In Arctic fjords during summer, nutrient limitation may severely delay oil biodegradation, but in the photic zone, photolytic transformation of PACs may play an important role.

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