Degradation of crude oil in the rhizosphere of Sorghum bicolor

M K Banks, Peter Kulakow, A P Schwab, Zeke Chen, Karrie Rathbone
International Journal of Phytoremediation 2003, 5 (3): 225-34
Dissipation of petroleum contaminants in the rhizosphere is likely the result of enhanced microbial degradation. Plant roots may encourage rhizosphere microbial activity through exudation of nutrients and by providing channels for increased water flow and gas diffusion. Phytoremediation of crude oil in soil was examined in this study using carefully selected plant species monitored over specific plant growth stages. Four sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) genotypes with differing root characteristics and levels of exudation were established in a sandy loam soil contaminated with 2700 mg crude oil/kg soil. Soils were sampled at three stages of plant growth: five leaf, flowering, and maturity. All vegetated treatments were associated with higher remediation efficiency, resulting in significantly lower total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations than unvegetated controls. A relationship between root exudation and bioremediation efficiency was not apparent for these genotypes, although the presence of all sorghum genotypes resulted in significant removal of crude oil from the impacted soil.

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