, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

The effect of inorganic and organic supplements on the microbial degradation of phenanthrene and pyrene in soils

  • Lisa M. Carmichael
  • Frederick K. Pfaender


The effects of several bioremediation stimulants, including potentialmetabolism pathway inducers, inorganic/organic nutrients, and surfactants onthe metabolism of phenanthrene and pyrene, as well as the populationdynamics of PAH degrading microorganisms was examined in five soils withdiffering background PAH concentrations, exposure histories and physicalproperties. Most of the supplements either had no significant effect ordecreased the mineralization of [14C]-phenanthrene and[14C]-pyrene in soil slurry microcosms. The effect of aparticular supplement, however, was often not uniform within or acrosssoils. Decreased mineralization of [14C]-phenanthrene and[14C]-pyrene was usually due to either preferential use of thesupplement as carbon source and/or stimulation of non-PAH degradingmicroorganisms. Many of the supplements increased populations ofheterotrophic microorganisms, as measured by plate counts, but did notincrease populations of phenanthrene degrading microorganisms, as measuredby the [14C]-PAH mineralization MPN analysis or cellularincorporation of [14C]-PAH. These results suggest that the PAHdegrading community at each site may be unique in their response tomaterials added in an attempt to stimulate PAH degradation. Thecharacteristics of the site, including exposure history, soil type, andtemporal variation may all influence their response.

biodegradation PAH phenanthrene pyrene bioremediation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aelion MC, Dobbins DC & FK Pfaender (1997) Effect of sediment amount onmicrobial degradation rates inmicrocosm experiments (in prep)Google Scholar
  2. Aranha HG & LR Brown (1981) Effect of nitrogen sources on the end products of naphthalene degradation. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 42: 74–78Google Scholar
  3. Bouchez M, Balchet D & JP Vandecasteele (1995) Degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by pure strains by defined strain associations: inhibition phenomena and cometabolism. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 43: 156–164Google Scholar
  4. Carmichael LM & FK Pfaender (1997) Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbon Metabolism in Soils: Relationships to Soil Characteristics and Preexposure. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 16: 666–675Google Scholar
  5. Clarke KR & NJP Owen (1983) A simple and versatile microcomputer program for the determination of Most Probable Number. J. Microbiol.Methods. 1: 133–137Google Scholar
  6. Dobbins DC & FK Pfaender (1988) Methodology for assessing respiration and cellular incorporation of radiolabeled substrates by soil microbial communities. Microbial Ecol. 15: 257–273Google Scholar
  7. Edwards EA, Edwards AM & D Grbic-galic (1994) A method for detection of aromatic metabolites at very low concentrations: application to detection ofmetabolites of anaerobic toluene degradation. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60: 323–327Google Scholar
  8. Efroymson RA & M Alexander (1994) Biodegradation of in soil of hydrophobic pollutants in nonaqueous-phase liquids (NAPLS). Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 13: 405–411Google Scholar
  9. Heitkamp MA, Freeman JP, Miller DW & CE Cerniglia (1988) Pyrene degradation by a Mycobacteriumsp. Identification of ring oxidation and ring fission products. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 54: 2549–2555Google Scholar
  10. Keck J, Sims RC, Coover M, Park K & B Symons (1989) Evidence of cooxidation of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in soils. Wat. Res. 23: 1467–1476Google Scholar
  11. Kiyohara H & K Nagao (1977) Enzymatic conversion of 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate in phenanthrene grown Aeromonassp. Agric. Biol. Chem. 40: 702–707Google Scholar
  12. Kiyohara H, Nagao K & R Nomi (1976) Degradation of phenanthrene by Aeromonassp. Agric. Biol. Chem. 40: 1075–1082Google Scholar
  13. Kwee S, Moller JV & M Le Maine (1986). Binding of detergents in membrane proteins. In: KL Mittal & P Bothorel (Eds) Surfactants in Solution, Vol 5. (pp 853–860). Plenum, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Laha S & RG Luthy (1991) Inhibition of phenanthrene mineralization by nonionic surfactants in soil-water systems. Environ. Sci. Technol. 25: 1920–1930Google Scholar
  15. Leduc R, Samson R, Al Bashir B, Al-Hawari J & T Cseh (1992) Biotic and abiotic disappearance of four PAH compounds from flooded soils under various redox conditions. Wat. Sci. Technol. 26: 51–60Google Scholar
  16. Lehmicke LG, Williams RT & RL Crawford (1979) 14C-Most Probable Number method for enumeration of active heterotrophic microorganisms in natural waters. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 38: 644–649Google Scholar
  17. Lewis DL, HP Kollig & RE Hodson (1986) Nutrient limitation and adaptation of microbial populations to chemical transformations. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 51: 598–603Google Scholar
  18. Liu Z, Jacobson AM & RG Luthy (1995) Biodegradation of naphthalene in aqueous nonionic surfactant systems. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61: 145–151Google Scholar
  19. Manilal & M Alexander (1991) Factors effecting themicrobial degradation of phenanthrene in soil. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 35: 401–405Google Scholar
  20. Mihelcec JR & RG Luthy (1993) Bioavailability of sorbed-and separate phase chemicals. Biodegradation. 4: 141–153Google Scholar
  21. Mihelcec JR & RG Luthy (1991) Sorption and microbial degradation of naphthalene in soil-water suspensions under denitrification conditions. Environ. Sci. Technol. 25: 169–177Google Scholar
  22. Morgan P & RJ Watkinson (1989) Hydrocarbon degradation in soils and methods for soil biotreatment. CRC Crit. Rev. Biotechnol. 8: 305–333Google Scholar
  23. Mueller JG, Chapman PJ, Blattmann BO & PH Pritchard (1990) Isolation and characterization of a fluorene utilizing strain of Pseudomonas paucimobilis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 56: 1079–1086Google Scholar
  24. Mueller JG, Chapman PJ, & PH Pritchard (1989) Creosote contaminated sites, their potential for bioremediation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 23: 1197–1201Google Scholar
  25. Ogunseitan OA, Delgado IL, Tsai YL & BH Olson (1991) Effect of 2-hydroxybenzoate on the maintenance of naphthalene degrading Pseudomonads in seeded and unseeded soil. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57: 2873–2879Google Scholar
  26. Pfaender FK & GW Bartholomew (1982) Measurement of aquatic biodegradation rates by determining heterotrophic uptake of radiolabeled pollutants. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 44: 159–164Google Scholar
  27. Pucknat AW (1981) Health Impacts of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Environmental Health reviews #5, Noyles Data Corporation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Robinson NC & C Tanford (1975) The binding of deoxycholate, Triton X-100, sodium dodecyl sulfate and phophatidylcholine vesicles to cytochrome b5. Biochemistry 14: 369–378Google Scholar
  29. Roch F & M Alexander (1995) Biodegradation of hydrophobic compounds in the presence of surfactants. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 14: 1151–1158Google Scholar
  30. Schlessinger WH (1991) Biogeochemistry. Academic Press, San Diego. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Waste Water, 17 th edition, 1992. American Public Health Association. Washington, DC. pp 9-32 to 9-38Google Scholar
  31. Stefenson WA & M Alexander (1995) Role of competition for inorganic nutrients in the biodegradation of mixtures of substrates. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61: 2859–2862Google Scholar
  32. Stringfellow WT & MD Aitken (1995) Competitive metabolism of naphthalene, methyl-naphthalenes and fluorene by a phenanthrene degrading Pseudomonads. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61: 357–362Google Scholar
  33. Suess MJ (1976) The environmental load and cycle of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Science Total Environ. 6: 239–250Google Scholar
  34. Swindoll CM, Aelion CM & FK Pfaender (1988) Influence of inorganic and organic nutrients on aerobic biodegradation and on the adaptation responses of subsurface microbial communities. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 54: 212–217Google Scholar
  35. Thomas JM, Lee MD, Scott MJ & CH Ward (1989) Microbial ecology of the subsurface at an abandoned creosote waste site. J. Indus. Microbiol. 4: 109–120.Google Scholar
  36. Tsomides HJ, Hughes JB, Thomas JM & CH Ward (1995) Effect of surfactant addition on phenanthrene biodegradation in sediments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 14: 953–959Google Scholar
  37. US EPA(1992) Contaminants and remedial options at wood treating sites. EPA/600/R-92/182. Cincinatti, OH Verschueren K (1983) Handbook on Environmental Chemicals (pp 970–973). Van Nostrand Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Volkering F, Breure AM, van Andel JG & WH Rulkens (1995) Influence of nonionic surfactants on bioavailability and biodegradation polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Appl. Microbiol and Technol. 61: 1699–1705Google Scholar
  39. Wodzinski RS & JE Coyle (1974) Physical state of phenanthrene utilization by bacteria. Appl. Microbiol. 27: 1081–1084Google Scholar
  40. Yen ML & CM Serdar (1988) Genetics of naphthalene catabolism in Pseudomonads. CRC Crit. Rev. Microbiol.15: 247–267Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa M. Carmichael
    • 1
  • Frederick K. Pfaender
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringThe University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations