Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 871–883 | Cite as

Microbial diversity and activity of an aged soil contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

  • Xiaohui Zhao
  • Fuqiang Fan
  • Huaidong Zhou
  • Panwei Zhang
  • Gaofeng Zhao
Research Paper


In-depth understanding of indigenous microbial assemblages resulted from aged contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is of vital importance in successful in situ bioremediation treatments. Soil samples of three boreholes were collected at 12 different vertical depths. Overall, the dominating three-ring PAHs (76.2%) were closely related to distribution patterns of soil dehydrogenase activity, microbial cell numbers, and Shannon biodiversity index () of indigenous microorganisms. High-molecular-weight PAHs tend to yield more diverse communities. Results from 16S rRNA analysis indicated that possible functional groups of PAH degradation include three species in Bacillus cereus group, Bacillus sp. SA Ant14, Nocardioides sp., and Ralstonia pickettii. Principal component analysis indicates significant positive correlations between the content of high-molecular-weight PAHs and the distribution of Bacillus weihenstephanensis KBAB4 and Nocardioides sp. The species B. cereus 03BB102, Bacillus thuringiensis, B. weihenstephanensis KBAB4, and Nocardioides sp. were recognized as main PAH degraders and thus recommended to be utilized in further bioremediation applications. The vertical distribution characteristics of PAHs in soil profiles (1–12 m) and the internal relationship between the transport mechanisms of PAHs and the response of soil biological properties help further understand the microbial diversity and activity in an aged site.


Microbial diversity Soil enzyme activity PAH biodegradation Bacterial community 



This work was supported by the Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (2018ZX07111-002 and 2018ZX07110-004), Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Plan Project (Z171100000717010 and Z171100004417025), and China IWHR Program (KY169913).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohui Zhao
    • 1
  • Fuqiang Fan
    • 2
  • Huaidong Zhou
    • 1
  • Panwei Zhang
    • 1
  • Gaofeng Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Water EnvironmentChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.Northern Region Persistent Organic Pollution Control (NRPOP) Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering and Applied ScienceMemorial University of NewfoundlandNewfoundlandCanada

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