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The development of phenanthrene catabolism in soil amended with transformer oil.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date21/11/2003
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants frequently associated with light non-aqueous-phase liquids (LNAPLs) in soil. Microbial degradation comprises a major loss process for PAHs in the environment. Various laboratory studies, using known degraders, have shown reduced or enhanced mineralisation of PAHs when dissolved in different LNAPLs. Effects due to the presence of LNAPLs on indigenous micro-organisms, however, are not fully understood. A pristine pasture soil was spiked with [C-14]phenanthrene and transformer oil to 0, 0.01 and 0.1%, and incubated for 180 days. The catabolic potential of the soil towards phenanthrene was assessed periodically during ageing. The extent of the lag phase (prior to > 5% mineralisation), maximum rates and overall extents of mineralisation observed during the course of a 14-day bioassay appeared to be dependent upon phenanthrene concentration, the presence of transformer oil, and soil-contaminant contact time. Putatively, transformer oil enhanced acclimation and facilitated the development of measurable catabolic activity towards phenanthrene in a previously uncontaminated pasture soil. Exact mechanisms for the observed enhancement, longer-term fate/degradation of the oil and residual phenanthrene, and effects of the presence of the oil on the indigenous microbes over extended time frames warrant further investigation. (C) 2003 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.}