Mud Volcanoes and the Presence of PAHs

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 27;10(1):1253. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-58282-2.


A mud volcano (MV) is a naturally hydrocarbon-spiked environment, as indicated by the presence of various quantities of PAHs and aromatic isotopic shifts in its sediments. Recurrent expulsion of various hydrocarbons consolidates the growth of hydrocarbonoclastic bacterial communities in the areas around MVs. In addition to the widely-known availability of biologically malleable alkanes, MVs can represent hotbeds of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well - an aspect that has not been previously explored. This study measured the availability of highly recalcitrant PAHs and the isotopic signature of MV sediments both by GC-MS and δ13C analyses. Subsequently, this study highlighted both the occurrence and distribution of putative PAH-degrading bacterial OTUs using a metabarcoding technique. The putative hydrocarbonoclastic taxa incidence are the following: Enterobacteriaceae (31.5%), Methylobacteriaceae (19.9%), Bradyrhizobiaceae (16.9%), Oxalobacteraceae (10.2%), Comamonadaceae (7.6%) and Sphingomonadaceae (5.5%). Cumulatively, the results of this study indicate that MVs represent polyaromatic hydrocarbonoclastic hotbeds, as defined by both natural PAH input and high incidence of putative PAH-degrading bacterial OTUs.