Paper No. 87-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
MICROBIAL ISOLATION AND DNA ANALYSIS OF TURNER HALL WOODS’ NATURAL HYDROCARBON SEEP ON THE ISLAND OF BARBADOS
The island of Barbados is home to a number of natural hydrocarbon seeps. These hydrocarbon seeps typically occur along fault lines and often breach water sources (Weber et al., 2012). Observational data suggests that microorganisms could be degrading the hydrocarbon material and may prove useful for economic bioremediation. Natural populations of hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms represent one of the leading mechanisms by which hydrocarbon pollutants are eliminated from the environment (Leahy and Colwell, 1990). The purpose of this study was to isolate and identify the microbial organisms coinciding with the natural hydrocarbons of Barbados. Samples were collected from two locations on Barbados using sterile field sampling procedures. This study focused on samples collected from the Turner Halls Woods’ inland freshwater location. Once the samples arrived back in the lab, they were plated onto petri dishes and placed in an incubator to cultivate for at least 24 hours. Over the next several weeks, individual colonies were isolated using a sterile streaking technique. Isolated plates were then sent for DNA sequencing to MIDI Labs. Once the microorganism was identified, the DNA signature was compared with other known hydrocarbon degraders and was determined to be the species of Alcaligenes faecalis. Alcaligenes faecalis is an aerobic bacterium known to produce biosurfactants, which reduces surface tension, allowing hydrocarbons to be emulsified with the water (Bharali et al., 2011). Further bioremediation using A. faecalis has shown promise in a study conducted by Lakshmi and Velan (2011), with a clear result of A. faecalis oxidizing a polycyclic hydrocarbon. These findings subsequently suggest the capacity of A. faecalis to be a capable bioremediation agent.