Preliminary study on biodegradation of phenanthrene by bacteria isolated from mangrove sediments in Hong Kong

N F Y Tam, C L Guo, W Y Yau, Y S Wong
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2002, 45 (1): 316-24
Elevated concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been found in mangrove sediments due to anthropogenic pollution, and microbial degradation has been suggested as the best way to remove PAHs from contaminated sediments. The degradation of phenanthrene, a model PAH compound by bacteria, either the enriched mixed culture or individual isolate isolated from surface mangrove sediments was examined. The effects of salinity, initial phenanthrene concentrations and the addition of glucose on biodegradation potential were also investigated. Results show that surface sediments collected from four mangrove swamps in Hong Kong had different degree of PAH contamination and had different indigenous phenanthrene-degrading bacterial consortia. The enriched bacteria could use phenanthrene as the sole carbon source for growth and degrade this PAH compound accordingly. A significant positive relationship was found between bacterial growth and percentages of phenanthrene degradation. The phenanthrene biodegradation ability of the enriched mixed bacterial culture was not related to the degree of PAH contamination in surface sediments. The growth and biodegradation percentages of the enriched mixed culture were not higher than that of the individual isolate especially at low salinity (0 and 10 ppt). High salinity (35 ppt) inhibited growth and biodegradation of phenanthrene of a bacterial isolate but less inhibitory effect was found on the mixed culture. The inhibitory effects of salinity could be reduced with the addition of glucose.

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