Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 450–462 | Cite as

Salt marsh sediment characteristics as key regulators on the efficiency of hydrocarbons bioremediation by Juncus maritimus rhizospheric bacterial community

  • Hugo Ribeiro
  • C. Marisa R. Almeida
  • Catarina Magalhães
  • Adriano A. Bordalo
  • Ana P. Mucha
Research Article


Mitigation of petroleum hydrocarbons was investigated during a 5-month greenhouse experiment, to assess the rhizoremediation (RR) potential in sediments with different characteristics colonized by Juncus maritimus, a salt marsh plant commonly found in temperate estuaries. Furthermore, the efficiency of two bioremediation treatments namely biostimulation (BS) by the addition of nutrients, and bioaugmentation (BA) by addition of indigenous microorganisms, was tested in combination with RR. The effect of the distinct treatments on hydrocarbon degradation, root biomass weight, and bacterial community structure was assessed. Our result showed higher potential for hydrocarbon degradation (evaluated by total petroleum hydrocarbon analysis) in coarse rhizosediments with low organic matter (OM), than rhizosediments with high OM, and small size particles. Moreover, the bacterial community structure was shaped according to the rhizosediment characteristics, highlighting the importance of specific microbe-particle associations to define the structure of rhizospheric bacterial communities, rather than external factors, such as hydrocarbon contamination or the applied treatments. The potential for hydrocarbon RR seems to depend on root system development and bacterial diversity, since biodegradation efficiencies were positively related with these two parameters. Treatments with higher root biomass, and concomitantly with higher bacterial diversity yielded higher hydrocarbon degradation. Moreover, BS and BA did not enhance hydrocarbons RR. In fact, it was observed that higher nutrient availability might interfere with root growth and negatively influence hydrocarbon degradation performance. Therefore, our results suggested that to conduct appropriate hydrocarbon bioremediation strategies, the effect of sediment characteristics on root growth/exploration should be taken into consideration, a feature not explored in previous studies. Furthermore, strategies aiming for the recovery of bacterial diversity after oil spills may improve the efficiency of hydrocarbon biodegradation in contaminated salt marsh sediments.


Juncus maritimus Salt marsh Sediment characteristics Hydrocarbon bioremediation Bacterial diversity 



The Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) supported this research, through the research project (PTDC/AAC-AMB/113973/2009), and the PhD fellowships awarded to Hugo Ribeiro (SFRH/BD/47631/2008) co-financed by POPH/FSE. This research was partially supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE-Operational Competitiveness Programme and national funds through FCT-Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/2013 and through the Project ECORISK (reference NORTE-07-0124-FEDER-000054), co-financed by the North Portugal Regional Operational Programme (ON.2-O Novo Norte), under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo Ribeiro
    • 1
  • C. Marisa R. Almeida
    • 1
  • Catarina Magalhães
    • 1
  • Adriano A. Bordalo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana P. Mucha
    • 1
  1. 1.CIMAR/CIIMAR-Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e AmbientalUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratório de Hidrobiologia e Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar (ICBAS-UP)Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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