Contrasting transcriptomic responses of a microbial eukaryotic community to oil and dispersant. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dispersants can aid dispersion and biodegradation of oil in seawater, but the wider ecotoxicological effects of oil and dispersant to the base of marine food webs is unclear. Here we apply a metatranscriptomic approach to identify molecular responses of a natural marine microbial eukaryotic community to oil and chemically dispersed oil. Oil exposure stimulated the upregulation of ketogenesis in the eukaryotic community, which may alleviate carbon- and energy-limitation and reduce oxidative stress. In contrast, a chemically dispersed oil treatment stimulated eukaryotic genes and pathways consistent with nitrogen and oxygen depletion. These results suggest that the addition of dispersant may elevate bacterial biodegradation of crude oil, indirectly increasing competition for nitrogen between prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities as oxygen consumption induces bacterial anaerobic respiration and denitrification. Eukaryotic microbial communities may mitigate some of the negative effects of oil exposure such as reduced photosynthesis and elevated oxidative stress, through ketosis, but the addition of dispersant to the oil fundamentally alters the environmental and ecological conditions and therefore the biochemical response of the eukaryotic community.

published proceedings

  • Environ Pollut

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Nanjappa, D., Liang, Y., Bretherton, L., Brown, C., Quigg, A., Irwin, A. J., & Finkel, Z. V.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Nanjappa, Deepak||Liang, Yue||Bretherton, Laura||Brown, Chris||Quigg, Antonietta||Irwin, Andrew J||Finkel, Zoe V

publication date

  • November 2021