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Bioremediation of experimental petroleum spills on mineral soils in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica



Bioremediation of experimental petroleum spills on mineral soils in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica



Polar Biology 13(3): 163-170



The effect of nutrient and water enhancement on the biodegradation of petroleum was tested in Antarctic mineral soils. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium were applied in solution, with or without gum xanthan or plastic covers, to sites artificially contaminated with distillate. The effectiveness of these procedures was assessed by measuring changes in total petroleum hydrocarbons; heptadecane/pristane and octadecane/phytane ratios; in concentrations of major hydrocarbon components and in microbial numbers and activity. Significantly lower hydrocarbon concentrations were recorded after one year in soils treated with fertilizer solutions, but only in the surface 3 cm. These soils also showed lowered heptadecane/pristane and octadecane/ phytane ratios and had the highest levels of microbial activity relative to other plots. Soils treated with gum xanthan or covered with plastic had the highest residual hydrocarbon levels. Both treatments inhibited evaporative loss of hydrocarbon, and there were indications that gum xanthan was utilized by the microbiota as an alternative carbon source to distillate. Higher temperatures were recorded under the plastic but no stimulation of biodegradation was detected. Estimated numbers of metabolically active bacteria were in the range 10-7 to 08 g-1 dry weight of soil, with an estimated biomass of 0.03 to 0.26 mg g-1 soil. Estimated numbers of amoebae were in the range 10-6 to 10-7 g-1 soil (biomass of 2 to 4 mg g-1). The highest populations were recorded in fertilized, contaminated soils, the only soils where petroleum degradation was demonstrated.

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Accession: 002311764

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DOI: 10.1007/bf00238926


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