Sheldon Ramoutar

M.Phil. Candidate
sramoutar Contact Information

  Department of Life Sciences
  The University of The West Indies
  St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

  Location: Natural Sciences Building
  Tel: 1(868) 799-2043
  Fax: 1(868) 663-5241

  • M.Phil. (Environmental Micro-Biology) University of the West Indies, St. Augustine 2010 - current
  • B.Sc. (Biology and Biochemistry) University of the West Indies, St. Augustine2008
Work Experience:
  • Open Campus Lecturer and Lab Coordinator, UWI, St. Augustine 2013
  • Teaching Assistant, UWI, St. Augustine 2011-current
  • Research Assistant/Demonstrator, UWI, St. Augustine 2008-2010
  • Medical Laboratory Technician Assistant, Eric Williams Medical Complex 2009-2010
Project Details:

Supervisors: Dr. Adesh Ramsubhag, Dr Azad Mohammed

Co-Supervisors: Dr. Jayaraj Jayaraman, Dr. Denise Beckles

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its extensive reserves of oil and natural gas. The extraction, distribution and processing of crude oil often present major environmental challenges due to spills on both land and sea with as much as 200 spills occurring on an annual basis. A study was done to develop and evaluate enriched cultures from natural petroleum seepage sites in Trinidad for potential bioremediation applications using small-scale reactors. The study investigated two seepages sites, the La Brea Pitch Lake (ancient site dated back to over 65 million years) and the Digity seepage, Penal.  The microbial community flora and physiochemical parameters were analyzed. Enriched and pure cultures were obtained from serial enrichment in basal salts medium containing different hydrocarbon fractions representing the full spectrum of crude oil (aliphatic, aromatic and asphaltenes) The cultures were characterized for rates of degradation in a laboratory scale study where the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon levels were monitored over a one-month period.  The enriched cultures and pure isolates with the highest degradation potentials for each oil fraction will then be selected for a pilot study to develop a consortium designed for total degradation of crude oil. Analysis of the data from the two seepages sites indicated an abundance of microbes present that were capable of degrading all the oil fractions.  Microbes   isolated from both sites showed great diversity and microbes degrading the simple aliphatic were more abundant compared to those degrading the asphaltenes.  The TPH degradation values were highest for the enriched cultures ranging from 80 to 95% while the pure cultures gave lower values ranging from 35 to 70 %. Deep sequencing information will be provided in time for presentation as well as results from the pilot study.                                                    

Keywords:  Bioremediation; hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms, asphaltenes, PAHs,  TPH

Projects Worked On:


Microbial Biotechnology Projects

  • The Bioremediation of oil contaminated soil-using microbes isolated from the Pitch Lake  2013
  • The Bioremediation of oil contaminated soil using microbes isolated from two gas stations in Trinidad 2013
  • Isolation and characterization of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria from Lowkie trace south Trinidad 2012
  • Bioremediation using diesel degrading bacteria from Trinidad  2012
  • Isolation and characterization of bio surfactant producing bacteria from Trinidad 2011
  • Isolation and characterization of potential diesel-degrading bacteria, isolated from oil contaminated soil and water in Trinidad 2011

 Petroleum Engineering Projects

  • Crude oil structural changes and degradation using an enriched culture of microbes 2013
  • Microbial enhanced oil recovery using micro organisms to enhance oil recovery (laboratory based trial) 2012
  • An investigation into the reduction of produced water components using local aquatic plant species for phytoremediaton 2011
  • Phytoremediation of oil contaminated water using two aquatic plants 2011


Revised: 16 December 2013