Review

Extremophiles

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 171-179

Bioremediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated polar soils

  • Jackie AislabieAffiliated withLandcare Research Email author 
  • , David J. SaulAffiliated withBiological Sciences Department, University of Auckland
  • , Julia M. FoghtAffiliated withBiological Sciences Department, University of Alberta

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Abstract

Bioremediation is increasingly viewed as an appropriate remediation technology for hydrocarbon-contaminated polar soils. As for all soils, the successful application of bioremediation depends on appropriate biodegradative microbes and environmental conditions in situ. Laboratory studies have confirmed that hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria typically assigned to the genera Rhodococcus, Sphingomonas or Pseudomonas are present in contaminated polar soils. However, as indicated by the persistence of spilled hydrocarbons, environmental conditions in situ are suboptimal for biodegradation in polar soils. Therefore, it is likely that ex situ bioremediation will be the method of choice for ameliorating and controlling the factors limiting microbial activity, i.e. low and fluctuating soil temperatures, low levels of nutrients, and possible alkalinity and low moisture. Care must be taken when adding nutrients to the coarse-textured, low-moisture soils prevalent in continental Antarctica and the high Arctic because excess levels can inhibit hydrocarbon biodegradation by decreasing soil water potentials. Bioremediation experiments conducted on site in the Arctic indicate that land farming and biopiles may be useful approaches for bioremediation of polar soils.

Keywords

Polar soils Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria Low temperature Bioremediation Arctic Antarctic Psychrotolerant