Metataxonomy and functionality of wood-tar degrading microbial consortia
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Wood-tar is a liquid material obtained by wood gasification process, and comprises several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Tar biodegradation is a very challenging task, due to its toxicity and to its complex chemistry. The ‘microbial resource management’ concerns the use of environmental microbial communities potentially able to provide us services. We applied this concept in tar biodegradation. Tar composed by several PAH (including phenanthrene, acenaphthylene and fluorene) was subjected to a biodegradation process in triplicate microcosms spiked with a microbial community collected from PAH-rich soils. In 20 days, 98.9% of tar was mineralized or adsorbed to floccules, while negative controls showed poor PAH reduction. The dynamics of fungal and bacterial communities was assessed through Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA), 454 pyrosequencing of the fungal ITS and of the bacterial 16S rRNA. Quantification of the degrading bacterial communities was performed via quantitative Real Time PCR of the 16S rRNA genes and of the cathecol 2,3-dioxygenase genes. Results showed the importance of fungal tar-degrading populations in the first period of incubation, followed by a complex bacterial dynamical growth ruled by co-feeding behaviors.