Effect of pyocyanin on a crude-oil-degrading microbial community. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an n-alkane degrader that is frequently isolated from petroleum-contaminated sites and produces factors that enhance its competitiveness and survival in many environments. In this study, one such factor, pyocyanin, has been detected in an oil-degrading culture containing P. aeruginosa and is a redox-active compound capable of inhibiting microbial growth. To examine the effects of pyocyanin further, an oil-degrading culture was grown with and without 9.5 microM pyocyanin and microbial community structure and oil degradation were monitored for 50 days. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of cultures revealed a decrease in the microbial community diversity in the pyocyanin-amended cultures compared to that of the unamended cultures. Two members of the microbial community in pure culture exhibited intermediate and high sensitivities to pyocyanin corresponding to intermediate and low levels of activity for the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase, respectively. Another member of the community that remained constant in the DGGE gels over the 50-day culture incubation period exhibited no sensitivity to pyocyanin, corresponding to a high level of catalase and superoxide dismutase when examined in pure culture. Pyocyanin also affected the overall degradation of the crude oil. At 50 days, the culture without pyocyanin had decreased polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons compared to the pyocyanin-amended culture, with a specific reduction in the degradation of dibenzothiophenes, naphthalenes, and C(29) and C(30) hopanes. This study demonstrated that pyocyanin influenced the diversity of the microbial community and suggests the importance of understanding how interspecies interactions influence the degradation capability of a microbial community.

published proceedings

  • Appl Environ Microbiol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Norman, R. S., Moeller, P., McDonald, T. J., & Morris, P. J.

citation count

  • 63

complete list of authors

  • Norman, R Sean||Moeller, Peter||McDonald, Thomas J||Morris, Pamela J

publication date

  • July 2004