Bioremediation of diesel oil in a co-contaminated soil by bioaugmentation with a microbial formula tailored with native strains selected for heavy metals resistance

Chiara Alisi, Rosario Musella, Flavia Tasso, Carla Ubaldi, Sonia Manzo, Carlo Cremisini, Anna Rosa Sprocati
Science of the Total Environment 2009 April 1, 407 (8): 3024-32
The aim of the work is to assess the feasibility of bioremediation of a soil, containing heavy metals and spiked with diesel oil (DO), through a bioaugmentation strategy based on the use of a microbial formula tailored with selected native strains. The soil originated from the metallurgic area of Bagnoli (Naples, Italy). The formula, named ENEA-LAM, combines ten bacterial strains selected for multiple resistance to heavy metals among the native microbial community. The biodegradation process of diesel oil was assessed in biometer flasks by monitoring the following parameters: DO composition by GC-MS, CO2 evolution rate, microbial load and composition of the community by T-RFLP, physiological profile in Biolog ECOplates and ecotoxicity of the system. The application of this microbial formula allowed to obtain, in the presence of heavy metals, the complete degradation of n-C(12-20), the total disappearance of phenantrene, a 60% reduction of isoprenoids and an overall reduction of about 75% of the total diesel hydrocarbons in 42 days. Concurrently with the increase of metabolic activity at community level and the microbial load, the gradual abatement of the ecotoxicity was observed. The T-RFLP analysis highlighted that most of the ENEA-LAM strains survived and some minor native strains, undetectable in the soil at the beginning of the experiment, developed. Such a bioaugmentation approach allows the newly established microbial community to strike a balance between the introduced and the naturally present microorganisms. The results indicate that the use of a tailored microbial formula may efficiently facilitate and speed up the bioremediation of matrices co-contaminated with hydrocarbons and heavy metals. The study represents the first step for the scale up of the system and should be verified at a larger scale. In this view, this bioaugmentation strategy may contribute to overcome a critical bottleneck of the bioremediation technology.

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