Biodegradation of hydrocarbon compounds in Agbabu natural bitumen
The recovery of an environment polluted by petroleum and allied hydrocarbons through bioremediation is being embraced globally as the best technology of removing hydrocarbon pollutants from environment. Infrared spectral changes and gravimetric analysis from the preliminary biodegradability study carried out on Agbabu Natural Bitumen showed the vulnerability of the bitumen to some bacteria: Pseudomonas putrefaciens, Pseudomonas nigrificans, Bacillus licheniformis, Pseudomonas fragi and Achromobacter aerogenes. This study investigates the ability of P. putrefaciens, P. nigrificans, B. licheniformis, P. fragi and A. aerogenes to degrade the aliphatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon fractions of Agbabu natural bitumen. Samples of the bitumen were separately inoculated with each of the bacteria for 14 days and the hydrocarbon profiles before and after inoculation were quantified using gas chromatography technique. The total aliphatic hydrocarbon compounds (C11 - C29) in the bitumen degraded by P. putrefaciens and P. nigrificans was slightly higher than that in the undegraded bitumen, while the concentration of compounds (C11 - C29) found in samples of the bitumen degraded by B. licheniformis, P. fragi and A. aerogenes was less than what was contained in the undegraded bitumen. Also the even-odd carbon-ratios of the degraded bitumen were higher than unity while these were less than unity in the undegraded bitumen. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) profile in the bitumen degraded samples also differed from that of undegraded bitumen. A substantial reduction in the concentration of some PAHs was found in the bitumen samples following their degradation by the bacteria strains, typically from 55.98 to 30.79%, thus suggesting the possibility of using the bacteria strains for bioremediation process.
Keywords: Agbabu, bitumen, bacteria, biodegradability, hydrocarbons
African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol 13(11), 1257-1264