Research Article Subject Area 5.1: Microbial Studies

Environmental Science and Pollution Research - International

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 244-250

First online:

Degradation of pentachlorophenol by pure and mixed cultures in two different soils

  • Xunchi PuAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, The University of Akron
  • , Teresa J. CutrightAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, The University of Akron Email author 

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Goal, Scope and Background

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is the second highest volume pesticide used in the United States. It is a mutagenic compound whose exposure poses significant health effects. One of the most desirable, environmentally friendly treatment methods is bioremediation. For soil-based contamination, the effectiveness of bioremediation will also be affected by the presence of an active indigenous population, sorption of the contaminant onto the soil, and environmental parameters.


Two pure strains and their mixed culture were used to evaluate PCP biodegradation in two different field soils, Columbia (CO) and New Mexico (NM). Biostimulation of the indigenous microbes was evaluated by adding nutrients. The efficiency of adding bacteria strains (bioaugmentation) for degrading PCP was determined with Arthrobacter sp., Flavobacterium sp. and a 50:50 mixture of the two bacteria strains.


In CO soil, only 24%, 12% and 25% of the initial PCP concentration were degraded by Flavobacterium sp., Arthrobacter sp. and mixed culture, respectively. Arthrobacter sp. was used in NM soil with two initial concentrations and achieved degradation efficiencies of 57% and 61% for 361 and 95 mg kg−1 concentrations, respectively.


Analysis via statistical methods showed that the bacteria had different efficiencies on PCP degradation in each soil.


All bacteria catalyzed a higher PCP degradation when present in NM soil. Second, Flavobacterium sp. degraded more PCP than Arthrobacter sp. in CO soil. The mixed culture achieved the highest degradation efficiency regardless of the initial concentration or soil origin.

Recommendations and Perspectives

The effect of the soil properties, such as the soil organic matter (SOM) on PCP biodegradation should be investigated. Future work can also investigate the effect of aging time on biodegradation.


Arthrobacter sp. bacteria strains bioaugmentation bioremediation biostimulation Flavobacterium sp. mutagenic compounds pentachlorophenol (PCP) soil organic matter (SOM)