Natrialba sp. strain C21 was isolated from oil contaminated saline water in Ain Salah (Algeria) and has exhibited a good potential for degrading phenol (3% v/v), naphthalene (3% v/v), and pyrene (3% v/v) at high salinity with high growth, enzymatic activity and biosurfactant production. Successful metabolism of aromatic hydrocarbon compounds of the strain Natrialba sp. C21 appears to require the ortho-cleavage pathway. Indeed, assays of the key enzymes involved in the ring cleavage of catechol 1, 2-dioxygenase indicated that degradation of the phenol, naphthalene and pyrene by strain Natrialba sp. C21 was via the ortho-cleavage pathway. Cells grown on aromatic hydrocarbons displayed greater ortho-activities mainly towards catechol, while the meta-activity was very low. Besides, biosurfactants derived from the strain C21 were capable of effectively emulsifying both aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons and seem to be particularly promising since they have particular adaptations like the increased stability at high temperature and salinity conditions. This study clearly demonstrates for the first time that strain belonging to the genera Natrialba is able to grow at 25% (w/v) NaCl, utilizing phenol, naphthalene, and pyrene as the sole carbon sources. The results suggest that the isolated halophilic archaeon could be a good candidate for the remediation process in extreme environments polluted by aromatic hydrocarbons. Moreover, the produced biosurfactant offers a multitude of interesting potential applications in various fields of biotechnology.
Keywords: Aromatic hydrocarbons; Biosurfactants; Catechol 1,2 dioxygenase; Emulsion stability; Halophilic archaea; Natrialba sp. C21; Ortho-cleavage pathway.