Abundance of sulfur-degrading bacteria in a benthic bacterial community of shallow sea sediment in the off-Terengganu coast of the South China Sea

Microbiologyopen. 2016 Dec;5(6):967-978. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.380. Epub 2016 Jun 3.


This study for the first time provides insight into the bacterial community in the benthic region of the Off-Terengganu Coastline, which is considered to be anthropogenically polluted due to heavy fishing vessel commotion. Subsurface bacteria were randomly collected from two locations at different depths and were examined using the 16S rDNA V3-V4 marker gene on the Illumina Miseq platform. In addition, the physiochemical parameters of the sediment were also measured. Surprisingly, the results show a high diversity of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in the surveyed area, where Sulfurovum sp. was identified to predominate the overall bacterial community. The physiochemical parameters reveal insufficient evidence of hydrothermal vents in the surveyed area. However, there are traces of hydrocarbon pollutants such as gasoline, diesel, and mineral oil in this area. It is assumed that sediment accumulation in the lee of breakwater plays an important role in trapping the runoff from the nearby harbor, which includes oil spills. Based on the common knowledge, Sulvurofum sp. is a native bacterium that exists in deep hydrothermal vents and volcanic territories. Although the reason for the abundance of Sulfurovum sp. in the surveyed area is still unclear, there is a possibility that metabolic adaptation plays an important role in regulating hydrocarbon pollutants for survival. The work presented in this paper therefore has profound implications for future studies on Sulfurovum sp. versatility. However, future research is needed to strengthen the findings of this study and to provide a better evidence regarding the metabolic response of this bacterium toward hydrocarbon pollutants.

Keywords: Biodiversity; environmental microbiology; hydrocarbon degradation; marine metagenome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • China
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Epsilonproteobacteria / classification
  • Epsilonproteobacteria / genetics
  • Epsilonproteobacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Epsilonproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Hydrothermal Vents / microbiology
  • Petroleum Pollution*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sulfur / metabolism*
  • Water Microbiology
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Sulfur