2012 Volume 58 Issue 1 Pages 19-31
Boat lubricants are continuously released into the marine environment and thereby cause chronic oil pollution. This study aims to isolate lubricant-degrading microorganisms from Thai coastal areas as well as to apply a selected strain for removal of boat lubricants. Ten microorganisms in the genera of Gordonia, Microbacterium, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Brucella, Enterococcus and Candida were initially isolated by crude oil enrichment culture techniques. The lubricant-removal activity of these isolates was investigated with mineral-based lubricants that had been manufactured for the 4-stroke diesel engines of fishing boats. Gordonia sp. JC11, the most effective strain was able to degrade 25-55% of 1,000 mg L-1 total hydrocarbons in six tested lubricants, while only 0-15% of the lubricants was abiotically removed. The bacterium had many characteristics that promoted lubricant degradation such as hydrocarbon utilization ability, emulsification activity and cell surface hydrophobicity. For bioaugmentation treatment of lubricant contaminated seawater, the inoculum of Gordonia sp. JC11 was prepared by immobilizing the bacterium on polyurethane foam (PUF). PUF-immobilized Gordonia sp. JC11 was able to remove 42-56% of 100-1,000 mg L-1 waste lubricant No. 2 within 5 days. This lubricant removal efficiency was higher than those of free cells and PUF without bacterial cells. The bioaugmentation treatment significantly increased the number of lubricant-degrading microorganisms in the fishery port seawater microcosm and resulted in rapid removal of waste lubricant No. 2.