Niche-specificity Factors of a Marine Oil-Degrading Bacterium Alcanivorax Borkumensis SK2

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2008 Aug;285(1):89-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01222.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


Alcanivorax borkumensis strain SK2 is a cosmopolitan hydrocarbonoclastic marine bacterium, with a specialized metabolism adapted to the degradation of petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Transposon mutagenesis was used for functional genome analysis of Alcanivorax SK2 to reveal the genetic basis of other environmentally relevant phenotypes, such as biofilm formation, adaptation to UV exposure, and to growth at either low temperature or high salinity. Forty-eight relevant transposon mutants deficient in any one of these environmentally responsive functions were isolated, and the corresponding genes interrupted by the mini-Tn5 element were sequenced using inverse PCR. Several cross connections between different phenotypes (e.g. biofilm and UV stress; biofilm and UV and osmoadaptation) on signal transduction level have been revealed, pointing at complex and tightly controlled cellular interactions involving oxygen as a primary messenger and cyclic-di-GMP as a secondary messenger required for Alcanivorax responses to environmental stresses. These results provide insights into bacterial function in a complex marine environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcanivoraceae / drug effects
  • Alcanivoraceae / genetics
  • Alcanivoraceae / physiology*
  • Alcanivoraceae / radiation effects
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Hydrocarbons / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Petroleum / metabolism*
  • Petroleum / microbiology
  • Salts / pharmacology
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Petroleum
  • Salts