About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Comparison of Plant Families in a Greenhouse Phytoremediation Study on an Aged Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon–Contaminated Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 5, p. 1461-1469
    Received: Sept 14, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): kenneth.reardon@colostate.edu
Request Permissions

  1. Paul E. Olsonab,
  2. Ana Castroab,
  3. Mark Joerna,
  4. Nancy M. DuTeauc,
  5. Elizabeth A. H. Pilon-Smitsb and
  6. Kenneth F. Reardon *a
  1. a Dep. of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523
    b Dep. of Biology, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523
    c Dep. of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous, recalcitrant, and potentially carcinogenic pollutants. Plants and their associated rhizosphere microbes can promote PAH dissipation, offering an economic and ecologically attractive remediation technique. This study focused on the effects of different types of vegetation on PAH removal and on the interaction between the plants and their associated microorganisms. Aged PAH-polluted soil with a total PAH level of 753 mg kg−1 soil dry weight was planted with 18 plant species representing eight families. The levels of 17 soil PAHs were monitored over 14 mo. The size of soil microbial populations of PAH degraders was also monitored. Planting significantly enhanced the dissipation rates of all PAHs within the first 7 mo, but this effect was not significant after 14 mo. Although the extent of removal of lower-molecular-weight PAHs was similar for planted and unplanted control soils after 14 mo, the total mass of five- and six-ring PAHs removed was significantly greater in planted soils at the 7- and 14-mo sampling points. Poaceae (grasses) were the most effective of the families tested, and perennial ryegrass was the most effective species; after 14 mo, soils planted with perennial ryegrass contained 30% of the initial total PAH concentration (compared with 51% of the initial concentrations in unplanted control soil). Although the presence of some plant species led to higher populations of PAH degraders, there was no correlation across plant species between PAH dissipation and the size of the PAH-degrading population. Research is needed to understand differences among plant families for stimulating PAH dissipation.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © 2007. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America