Indigenous microbial communities along the NW Portuguese Coast: potential for hydrocarbons degradation and relation with sediment contamination

Vanessa Gouveia, C. Marisa R. Almeida*, Tânia Almeida, Catarina Teixeira, Ana P. Mucha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrocarbon degradation (HD) potential by autochthonous microorganisms in the coastal sediments of the NW area of Portugal (coastal sandy beaches and estuaries of the rivers Minho and Douro) was evaluated, investigating if water and sediment contamination/characteristics influence it. Sediments were characterized for microbial abundance (by DAPI), HD microorganisms' abundance (by MPN), microbial community structure (by ARISA), hydrocarbons (by FTIR and SPME-GC-MS), hazardous and noxious substances (SPME-GC-MS) and metals (by AAS). To our knowledge, this is the first time all these pollutants, including the selected HNS, were measured simultaneously in sediments of the selected coastal area. Higher contaminants concentrations were, generally, registered in Douro samples. A clear differentiation of the microbial community structure between beaches and estuaries was observed, as well as, between Douro and Minho river estuaries. BIO-ENV analysis indicated both sediment characteristics (e.g. OM content) and contaminants presence/concentrations (e.g. tetrachloroethylene presence) affected the structure of the microbial community along the studied areas. In all the selected sites, the characterized autochthonous microbial communities showed potential for hydrocarbons degradation, with HD microorganisms being found in all collected sediments. These microorganisms can be a valuable asset to recover contaminated areas, but sediment characteristics and contaminants presence/levels need to be taken into account as they can affect their bioremediation potential and the success of their application as biotechnological tool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-632
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Coastal beaches
  • Estuaries
  • Hydrocarbon degradation
  • Microbial communities
  • Sediment contamination


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