Assessing the hydrocarbon degrading potential of indigenous bacteria isolated from crude oil tank bottom sludge and hydrocarbon-contaminated soil of Azzawiya oil refinery, Libya

Abdulatif A. Mansur, Eric M. Adetutu, Krishna K. Kadali, Paul D. Morrison, Yuana Nurulita, Andrew S. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The disposal of hazardous crude oil tank bottom sludge (COTBS) represents a significant waste management burden for South Mediterranean countries. Currently, the application of biological systems (bioremediation) for the treatment of COTBS is not widely practiced in these countries. Therefore, this study aims to develop the potential for bioremediation in this region through assessment of the abilities of indigenous hydrocarbonoclastic microorganisms from Libyan Hamada COTBS for the biotreatment of Libyan COTBS-contaminated environments. Bacteria were isolated from COTBS, COTBS-contaminated soil, treated COTBS-contaminated soil, and uncontaminated soil using Bushnell Hass medium amended with Hamada crude oil (1 %) as the main carbon source. Overall, 49 bacterial phenotypes were detected, and their individual abilities to degrade Hamada crude and selected COBTS fractions (naphthalene, phenanthrene, eicosane, octadecane and hexane) were evaluated using MT2 Biolog plates. Analyses using average well colour development showed that ~90 % of bacterial isolates were capable of utilizing representative aromatic fractions compared to 51 % utilization of representative aliphatics. Interestingly, more hydrocarbonoclastic isolates were obtained from treated contaminated soils (42.9 %) than from COTBS (26.5 %) or COTBS-contaminated (30.6 %) and control (0 %) soils. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) separated the isolates into two clusters with microorganisms in cluster 2 being 1.7- to 5-fold better at hydrocarbon degradation than those in cluster 1. Cluster 2 isolates belonged to the putative hydrocarbon-degrading genera; Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Arthrobacter and Brevundimonas with 57 % of these isolates being obtained from treated COTBS-contaminated soil. Overall, this study demonstrates that the potential for PAH degradation exists for the bioremediation of Hamada COTBS-contaminated environments in Libya. This represents the first report on the isolation of hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria from Libyan COTBS and COTBS-contaminated soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10725-10735
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioremediation
  • Contaminated soil
  • Crude oil tank bottom sludge (COTBS)
  • Hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria
  • MT2 Biolog plates
  • Weathered Hamada crude oil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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