• Study of the genes involved in Naphthenic acids (NAs) degradation by Rhodococcus spp.
  • Presentato, Alessandro <1985>


  • BIO/19 Microbiologia


  • Naphthenic acids (NAs) are an important group of organic pollutants mainly found in hydrocarbon deposits. Although these compounds are toxic, recalcitrant, and persistent in the environment, we are just learning the diversity of microbial communities involved in NAs- degradation and the mechanisms by which NAs are biodegraded. Studies have shown that naphthenic acids are susceptible to biodegradation, which decreases their concentration and reduces toxicity. Nevertheless, little is still known about their biodegradability. The present PhD Thesis’s work is aimed to study the biodegradation of simple model NAs using bacteria strains belonging to the Rhodococcus genus. In particular, Rh. sp. BCP1 and Rh. opacus R7 were able to utilize NAs such as cyclohexane carboxylic acid and cyclopentane carboxylic acid as the sole carbon and energy sources, even at concentrations up to 1000 mg/L. The presence of either substituents or longer carboxylic acid chains attached to the cyclohexane ring negatively affected the growth by pure bacterial cultures. Moreover, BCP1 and R7 cells incubated in the presence of CHCA or CPCA show a general increase of saturated and methyl-substituted fatty acids in their membrane, while the cis-mono-unsaturated ones decrease, as compared to glucose-grown cells. The observed lipid molecules modification during the growth in the presence of NAs is suggested as a possible mechanism to decrease the fluidity of the cell membrane to counteract NAs toxicity. In order to further evaluate this toxic effect on cell features, the morphological changes of BCP1 and R7 cells were also assessed through Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), revealing interesting ultrastructural changes. The induction of putative genes, and the construction of a random transposon mutagenesis library were also carried out to reveal the mechanisms by which these Rhodococcus strains can degrade toxic compounds such as NAs.


  • 2015-04-10


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Presentato, Alessandro (2015) Study of the genes involved in Naphthenic acids (NAs) degradation by Rhodococcus spp., [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum UniversitĂ  di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare , 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/7076.