Bacterial communities and chemical parameters in soils and coastal sediments in response to diesel spills at Carlini Station, Antarctica

Doris.Abele [ at ]


A diesel spill occurring at Carlini Station (King-George Island, South Shetlands) in 2009 initiated investigations of the fate of the hydrocarbons and their effect on the bacterial communities of the Potter Cove ecosystem. Soils and sediments were sampled across the 200-meter long diesel plume towards Potter Cove four and 15 months after the spill. The sampling revealed a second fuel leakage from an underground pipeline at the spill site. The hydrocarbon fraction spilt over frozen and snow-covered ground, reached the sea, and dispersed with the currents. Contray diesel that infiltrated unfrozen soil remained detectable for years and was seeping with ground water towards coastal marine sediments. Structural changes of the bacterial communities as well as hydrocarbon, carbon and nitrogen contents were investigated in sediments in front of the station, two affected terrestrial sites, and a terrestrial non-contaminated reference site. Bacterial communities (16S rRNA gene clone libraries) changed over time in contaminated soils and sediments. At the underground seepage site of highest contamination (5812 to 366 µg g-1dw hydrocarbons from surface to 90-cm depth), communities were dominated by Actinobacteria (18%) and a betaproteobacterium closely related to Polaromonas napthalenivorans (40%). At one of the spill sites affected exclusively at the surface, contamination disappeared within one year. The same bacterial groups were enriched at both contaminated sites. This response at community level suggests that the cold-adapted indigenous microbiota in soils of the West Antarctic Peninsula have a high potential for bioremediation and can support soil cleaning actions in the ecosystem. Intensive monitoring of pollution and site assessment after episodic fuel spills is required for decision-making towards remediation strategies.

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DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.129

Cite as
Vázquez, S. , Monien, P. , Minetti, R. P. , Jürgens, J. , Curtosi, A. , Villalba Primitz, J. , Frickenhaus, S. , Abele, D. , Mac Cormack, W. P. and Helmke, E. (2017): Bacterial communities and chemical parameters in soils and coastal sediments in response to diesel spills at Carlini Station, Antarctica , Science of The Total Environment, 605-60 , pp. 26-37 . doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.129

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