Effects of carbon substrate enrichment and DOC concentration on biodegradation of PAHs in soil

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Aims: Two common reasons to explain slow environmental biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), namely lack of appropriate carbon sources for microbial growth and limited bioavailability of PAHs, were tested in a laboratory bioassay using a creosote-contaminated soil. Methods and Results: The soil, containing a total of 8 mg g(-1) of 16 PAHs, was sieved and incubated in bottles for 45 days. The first explanation was tested by enrichment with the analogue anthracene and the non-analogue myristic acid, and both failed to stimulate degradation of all PAHs except anthracene. The second explanation was tested by addition of different concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), with effects depending on the DOC concentration and the molecular size of the PAH. The degradation was enhanced from 10 to 35% for 12 PAHs when the soil was saturated. The degraded amounts of individual PAHs were proportional to their concentration in the soil. Conclusions: The slow in situ degradation of PAHs was enhanced by more than three times by adding water as a solvent. Addition of DOC facilitated the degradation of four- to six-ring PAHs. Significance and Impact of Study: Bioremediation of PAH-contaminated sites may be facilitated by creating water-saturated conditions but retarded by addition of other carbon substrates, such as analogue compounds.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-617
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch

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