Effectiveness of bacterial inoculum and mangrove plants on remediation of sediment contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

N F Y Tam, Y S Wong
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2008, 57 (6-12): 716-26
The remediation of mangrove sediment contaminated with mixed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) having 3-, 4- and 5-rings by natural attenuation, bioaugmentation, phytoremediation and its combination was compared by greenhouse microcosm studies. At Days 90 and 154, the decreases of PAHs in contaminated mangrove sediment by phytoremediation, planted with one-year old Aegiceras corniculatum, and bioaugmentation, the inoculation of PAH-degrading bacterial strains isolated from mangrove sediment, either SCSH (Mycobacterium parafortuitum) or SAFY (Sphingobium yanoikuyae), were not better than that by natural attenuation (the non-vegetated and un-inoculated microcosms). The populations of SCSH and SAFY in sediment could not be maintained even with repeated inoculation, suggesting that the two isolates were not able to compete with the indigenous microbes and had little enhancement effect. Although some PAHs were accumulated in roots, root uptake only accounted for <15% of the spiked PAHs and the effect of plants on remediation were also insignificant. At the end of the 154-day experiment, the mass balance calculation revealed that the overall losses of PAHs by phytoremediation were comparable to that by bioaugmentation but were lower than that by natural attenuation, especially for the high molecular weight PAHs. Under natural attenuation, around 90% fluorene, 80% phenanthrene, 70% fluoranthene, 68% pyrene and 32% benzo[a]pyrene in contaminated sediment were removed. These results demonstrated that the mangrove sediment itself had sufficient indigenous microorganisms capable of naturally remedying PAH contamination.

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