Main Article Content

Lubricating oil-degrading bacteria in soils from filling stations and auto- mechanic workshops in Buea, Cameroon: occurrence and characteristics of isolates

JTK Akoachere
TN Akenji
FN Yongabi
G Nkwelang
RN Ndip


The discharge of used crankcase oil from vehicles is a major source of oil pollution in Buea. The objectives of this study were to isolate and characterize bacteria capable of effectively degrading and
cleaning up waste engine oil in this locality and also to ascertain the influence of some environmental factors on the rates of degradation of these isolates. Seventy-two soil samples collected from
lubricating oil dump sites (3 auto-mechanic workshops and 3 petrol filling stations, comprising impacted soils) and uncontaminated plots (non-impacted soils) (controls) were analysed for oildegrading
and heterotrophic bacteria following standard microbiological and biochemical methods. The ability of cultures to degrade lubricating oil was also tested individually and in mixed bacterial consortium at different temperatures and nutrient concentrations. Results were analysed using the chisquared test. P values of < 0.05 were considered significant. Heterotrophic bacterial counts were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in non-impacted than in impacted soils. Conversely, the population of oil degraders was significantly lower (P < 0.05) in non-impacted than in impacted soils. Oil degraders isolated included Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus mycoides and Serratia marcescens. Of the pure isolates, Serratia marcescens degraded the highest amount of oil (36.2%). However, a mixed culture of the isolates proved to be more effective, degrading 38.1% of oil within 20 days. All the isolates
exhibited highest degradation at 32°C; and degradation rates of Pseudomonas fluorescens and Bacillus mycoides increased with increase in nutrient concentration. This study, the first of its kind in Buea, revealed the presence of oil-degrading bacteria in soils as well as the physico-chemical requirements of these bacteria for optimum degradation. This finding could be exploited in case of oil-spill clean-up

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5315