Investigation of Native UAE Microbes for Bioremediation of Water Contaminated with Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons

  • Ruqaia A. Ismail

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Bioremediation of petroleum spills is achieved through the catabolism of petroleum hydrocarbons by microbial species found in natural environments. It is considered one of the most ecologically sustainable, and cost effective technique for cleaning up oil contaminated sites. Identification of key organisms that play role in the degradation process of the petroleum based pollutants is crucial for understanding, assessing, and developing future in situ bioremediation strategies as an alternative to the current remediation techniques. In this study we have isolated and continue to physiologically and genetically characterize indigenous hydrocarbon degrading bacteria found in marine habitats of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These samples were collected from seawater contaminated with liquid and solid sedimented hydrocarbons along the coastal area of the Arabian Gulf as well as the eastern shores of the Gulf of Oman of the UAE. A total of 33 microorganisms were isolated by serial dilution and culturing on nutrient agar medium. These isolates were further rapidly evaluated for their ability to grow on diesel fuel as their sole carbon source by hole-plate diffusion test. Three isolates were selected based on their morphology and ability to grow on diesel as their sole carbon source and were subjected to Illumina High Throughput Sequencing. The quality of the reads has been assessed and initial genomic assembly using SPAdes assembler was performed. Preliminary analysis of the 5 longest contigs using the program BLAST showed low similarity to Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacteria. This similarity is of interest as these two studied bacterial strains have been shown to possess hydrocarbon degrading capabilities. These ongoing studies suggest that we have isolated and are characterizing three novel hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms from the coastal waters of the UAE.
Date of AwardMay 2017
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorHector Hernandez (Supervisor)


  • Oil Spills
  • Water Pollution
  • Contamination Cleanup
  • Bioremdiation
  • Hydrocarbon Degrading Bacteria
  • Microbes.

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