Natural attenuation, biostimulation and bioaugmentation on biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mangrove sediments

K S H Yu, A H Y Wong, K W Y Yau, Y S Wong, N F Y Tam
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2005, 51 (8-12): 1071-7
The biodegradability of a mixture of PAHs, namely fluorene (Fl), phenanthrene (Phe) and pyrene (Pyr), in mangrove sediment slurry was investigated. At the end of week 4, natural attenuation based on the presence of autochthonous microorganisms degraded more than 99% Fl and Phe but only around 30% of Pyr were degraded. Biostimulation with addition of mineral salt medium degraded over 97% of all three PAHs, showing that nutrient amendment could enhance Pyr degradation. Bioaugmentation with inoculation of a PAH-degrading bacterial consortium enriched from mangrove sediments did not show any promotion effect and the degradation percentages of three PAHs were similar to that by natural attenuation. Some inhibitory effect was observed in bioaugmentation treatment in week 1 with only 50% Fl and 70% Phe degraded. These results indicate that autochthonous microbes may interact and even compete with the enriched consortium during PAH biodegradation. Natural attenuation appeared to be the most appropriate way to remedy Fl- and Phe-contaminated mangrove sediments while biostimulation was more capable to degrade Pyr-contaminated sediments. The study also shows that although a large portion of the added PAHs (more than 95%) was adsorbed onto the sediments at the beginning of the experiment, most PAHs were degraded in 4 weeks, suggesting that the degraders could utilize the adsorbed PAHs efficiently.

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