Original Paper


, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 279-293

First online:

Effect of carbon source during enrichment on BTEX degradation by anaerobic mixed bacterial cultures

  • Murthy KasiAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, North Dakota State UniversityMoore Engineering, Inc.
  • , Tanush WadhawanAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University
  • , John McEvoyAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences, North Dakota State University
  • , G. PadmanabhanAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University
  • , Eakalak KhanAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University Email author 

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A comprehensive study on the effects of different carbon sources during the bacterial enrichment on the removal performances of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) compounds when present as a mixture was conducted. Batch BTEX removal kinetic experiments were performed using cultures enriched with individual BTEX compounds or BTEX as a mixture or benzoate alone or benzoate–BTEX mixture. An integrated Monod-type non-linear model was developed and a ratio between maximum growth rate (μ max) and half saturation constant (Ks) was used to fit the non-linear model. A higher μ max/Ks indicates a higher affinity to degrade BTEX compounds. Complete removal of BTEX mixture was observed by all the enriched cultures; however, the removal rates for individual compounds varied. Degradation rate and the type of removal kinetics were found to be dependent on the type of carbon source during the enrichment. Cultures enriched on toluene and those enriched on BTEX mixture were found to have the greatest μ max/Ks and cultures enriched on benzoate had the least μ max/Ks. Removal performances of the cultures enriched on all different carbon sources, including the ones enriched on benzoate or benzoate–BTEX mixture were also improved during a second exposure to BTEX. A molecular analysis showed that after each exposure to the BTEX mixture, the cultures enriched on benzoate and those enriched on benzoate–BTEX mixture had increased similarities to the culture enriched on BTEX mixture.


Biodegradation Enrichment Mixed bacterial culture BTEX Anaerobic