Oil bioremediation using insoluble nitrogen source

Eugene Rosenberg, Rachel Legman, Ariel Kushmaro, Ellik Adler, Haim Abir, Eliora Z. Ron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Oil bioremediation is limited by the availability of nitrogen and phosphorous, which are needed by the bacteria and not present in sufficient amounts in hydrocarbons. The supply of these two essential elements as water-soluble salts presents several problems. These include the rapid dilution of the salts in the large volumes of polluted land or water and their utilization by other bacteria that do not degrade oil. In addition, increasing the concentration of mobile nitrogen creates further environmental problems. The use of hydrophobic sources of nitrogen and phosphorous that have a low water solubility can overcome these problems. We have studied one such compound, F-1, that is not used by most bacteria but serves as a good nitrogen and phosphorous source for those bacterial strains that are capable of utilizing it. We have shown that bacteria using F-1 do not cross-feed other bacterial strains. Moreover, when the concentration of the pollutant is sufficiently reduced, the multiplication of the bacteria slows down until they become a negligible fraction of the bacterial population. Chemical analysis indicated that following a 28-day treatment of Alaskan crude oil, most of the hydrocarbons, including polycyclic aromatics, are degraded to undetectable levels. The C34 and C35 components were also degraded, although their degradation was not completed within this time period. In treatment of a sandy beach that was accidentally polluted with crude heavy oil, about 90% degradation was obtained within about 4 months at an outside average temperature of 5-10°C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Nov 1996
EventProceedings of the 1995 Workshop on Environmental Biotechnology -
Duration: 28 Nov 199528 Nov 1995


FundersFunder number
Fogarty International Center for Advanced Studies
Morris and Manja Leigh Chair in Biophysicsa nd Biotechnology


    • hydrocarbon degradation
    • insoluble nitrogen source
    • oil bioremediation


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