Phylogeny and diversity of alkane-degrading enzyme gene variants in the Laurentian great lakes and Western atlantic

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Department of Biological Sciences


Many aquatic environments are at risk for oil contamination and alkanes are one of the primary constituents of oil. The alkane hydroxylase (AlkB) is a common enzyme used by microorganisms to initiate the process of alkane-degradation. While many aspects of alkane bioremediation have been studied, the diversity and evolution of genes involved in hydrocarbon degradation from environmental settings is relatively understudied. The majority of work done to-date has focused on the marine environment. Here we sought to better understand the phylogenetic diversity of alkB genes across marine and freshwater settings using culture-independent methods. We hypothesized that there would be distinct phylogenetic diversity of alkB genes in freshwater relative to the marine environment. Our results confirm that alkB has distinct variants based on environment while our diversity analyses demonstrate that freshwater and marine alkB communities have unique responses to oil amendments. Our results also demonstrate that in the marine environment, depth is a key factor impacting diversity of alkB genes.

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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1093/femsle/fnaa182

Publication Title

FEMS Microbiology Letters