Marine, Aerobic Hydrocarbon-Degrading Gammaproteobacteria: The Family Alcanivoracaceae

Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


The family Alcanivoracaceae contains the group of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria that, due to their ability to use hydrocarbons as main carbon source, have been described as obligate hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (OHCB). Currently, the family includes the validly published genera Alcanivorax and Ketobacter. Most family members are highly specialized in degrading linear and branched alkanes of different origin. They typically dominate marine environments suffering from oil contamination and, through their highly adapted metabolic capabilities, are extremely efficient in the cleanup of marine oil spills. In particular, according to the results of the genome sequence analyses of nine species, they are proficient at scavenging nutrients and microelements, especially iron. They produce biosurfactants and can form biofilms around oil droplets and at the oil–water interface. Recent studies, discussed in this chapter with emphasis on the sequencing surveys, have expanded our knowledge and understanding of the diversity of Alcanivoracaceae bacteria, their wide distribution in the natural marine and terrestrial environments (both oil-contaminated and noncontaminated), and their possible association with various marine invertebrates and microalgae.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biological Resources and Marine Biotechnology, IRBIM-CNRMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Living SystemsImmanuel Kant Federal Baltic UniversityKaliningradRussia
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental BiotechnologyBangor UniversityBangorUK
  4. 4.Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM)MonacoMonaco
  5. 5.School of Natural SciencesBangor UniversityBangorUK

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