Alcanivorax Borkumensis


Alcanivorax borkumensis is the name of a small bacterium that exists in the nature «oil-eater», and that complements oil-polluted waters. It finds itself in all the oceans of the planet. It is used to dissolve oil tables during oil spills.

These bacteria could clean our toxic dumps, contaminated groundwater, and make oil spills a past nightmare, and it can break some toxic molecules into hydrocarbons and turns them into less harmful substances.

Meaning and ecology of A Borkumensis:

In optimum conditions, A Borkumensis may be the dominant species present in a contaminated area and may represent up to 85% of the microbial population degrading hydrocarbons present. Over time, scientists have discovered that the populations of A. Borkumensis are flourishing and that the degradation of crude oil is accelerating. The decimation of wildlife and marine populations would have been widespread.

Borkumensis is an indigenous species and it is adapted to life in aquatic environments contaminated by hydrocarbons. Its genome codes for a wide spectrum of effective oil degradation enzymes that can be used in the bioremediation of oil spills.        Research is underway to manipulate A. Borkumensis growth with phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer amendments. The addition of phosphorus and nitrogen as fertilizer can in fact contaminate aquatic environments and exacerbate environmental degradation.

The genome structure of A Borkumensis

  1. Borkumensis strain SK 2 is the first hydrocarbon bacterium to have sequenced genome sequencing. The genome consists of a single circular chromosome. Genomic analysis revealed the importance of three main systems:
  2. (a) Degradation of n-alkanes: metabolism, surfactant and production of biofilms. (b) Acquisition of phosphorus, nitrogen, sulfur and other elements for the degradation of alkanes.
  3. Tolerance to stressors such as high UV rays encountered in its natural habitat of the upper layers of aquatic environments.

As with all vital systems of microorganisms, enzymes are the critical factors that support the functioning of these three main systems. A. Borkumensis produces alcb 1 and alcb 2 enzymes; both are hydroxylase hydroxylations, but alcb 1 linear or branched alkane oxide in the range of five to twelve carbon atoms, while alcb 2 linear or branched alkanes in a range of eight to sixteen carbon atoms.


Alcanivorax Borkumensis can use the n-alkanes, aliphatic hydrocarbons, volatile fatty acids and pyruvate as sources of carbon and energy. A. Borkumensis produces extracellular and membrane-bound glucose lipids called bio surfactants. Bio surfactants play a crucial role in the biodegradation of oil as they reduce surface water tension and act as natural emulsifiers to elicit oil from water, making it available for biodegradation.

Examples of these bacteria use :

The Chinese authorities, for example, used more than 20 tons of an “oil-eating” bacteria to fight a yellow oil spill in the Yellow Sea, which was caused by the explosion of a pipeline followed by a fire, and also used it when a pipeline broke down in a field or river or for cleaning, contaminated land.

That is why oil gradually disappears in nature. It metabolizes hydrocarbons and makes us a service.


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