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Shifts in microbial community structure during in situ surfactant-enhanced bioremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil


This study aims to reveal the microbial mechanism of in situ surfactant-enhanced bioremediation (SEBR). Various concentrations of rhamnolipids, Tween 80, and sodium dodecyl benzenesulfonate (SDBS) were separately sprayed onto soils contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for years. Within 90 days, the highest level of degradation (95 %) was observed in the soil treated with rhamnolipids (10 mg/kg), followed by 92 % degradation with Tween 80 (50 mg/kg) and 90 % degradation with SDBS (50 mg/kg). The results of the microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) suggest that bacteria dominated the enhanced PAH biodegradation (94 % of the maximum contribution). The shift of bacterial community structure during the surfactant treatment was analyzed by using the 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing. In the presence of surfactants, the number of the operational taxonomic units (OTUs) associated with Bacillus, Pseudomonas, and Sphingomonas increased from 2–3 to 15–30 % at the end of the experiment (two to three times of control). Gene prediction with phylogenetic investigation of communities by reconstruction of unobserved states (PICRUSt) shows that the PAH-degrading genes, such as 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate dioxygenase and PAH dioxygenase large subunit, significantly increased after the surfactant applications (p < 0.05). The findings of this study provide insights into the surfactant-induced shifts of microbial community, as well as critical factors for efficient bioremediation.

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This work was financially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2014CB441106) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21137003).

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Correspondence to Lizhong Zhu.

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Responsible editor: Robert Duran

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Wang, L., Li, F., Zhan, Y. et al. Shifts in microbial community structure during in situ surfactant-enhanced bioremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 14451–14461 (2016).

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  • PAH-contaminated soil
  • Surfactant-enhanced bioremediation (SEBR)
  • Autochthonous biostimulation
  • Phospholipid fatty acid
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Gene prediction