Bioremediation of atrazine-contaminated soil by repeated applications of atrazine-degrading bacteria
Bioaugmentation has previously been unreliable for the in situ clean-up of contaminated soils because of problems with poor survival and the rapid decline in activity of the bacterial inoculum. In an attempt to solve these problems, a 500-l batch fermenter was investigated for its ability to deliver inoculum repeatedly to contaminated soils via irrigation lines. In a field experiment, mesocosms were filled with 350 kg soil containing 100 mg kg−1 atrazine, and inoculated one, four or eight times with an atrazine-degrading bacterial consortium that was produced in the fermenter. After 12 weeks, no significant degradation of atrazine had occurred in soil that was inoculated only once; whereas, mesocosms inoculated four and eight times mineralized 38% and 72% of the atrazine respectively. Similar results were obtained in a laboratory experiment using soil contaminated with 100 mg kg−1 [14C]atrazine. After 35 days, soil that was inoculated once with 108 cfu ml−1 of the consortium or with the atrazine-degrading bacterium, Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP, mineralized 17% and 35% of the atrazine respectively. In comparison, microcosms inoculated every 3 days with the consortium or with Pseudomonas sp. (ADP) mineralized 64% or 90% of the atrazine over this same period. Results of these experiments suggest that repeated inoculation from an automated fermenter may provide a strategy for bioaugmentation of contaminated soil with xenobiotic-degrading bacteria.
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