The degradation of diesel fuel, B20 blend and biodiesel in liquid cultures by a seven-member bacterial consortium was compared under conditions with full aeration or with limited aeration with nitrate added as main electron acceptor. Community dynamics was assessed employing real-time PCR and the ddCt method for relative quantification. Biodegradation rates increased with increasing biodiesel content, but were significantly reduced under conditions with nitrate. Despite large variations in biodegradation rates, magnitude changes in population numbers were typically observed only from zero to one order, regardless the type of fuel and electron acceptor. Only Comamonadaceae and Variovorax sp. distinctly preferred aerobic conditions, and during aerobic growth showed suppression as fuel contained more biodiesel. Thus, the consortium is relatively stable and most of the degraders can shift their metabolism from hydrocarbons to biodiesel. The stability of the consortium is of interest in the context of biodiesel-mediated biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons.
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