Biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by native microflora and combinations of white-rot fungi in a coal-tar contaminated soil.

Canet R, Birnstingl JG, Malcolm DG, Lopez-Real JM, Beck AJ.

Department of Biology, Imperial College of Wye, Wye, Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH, UK.


Four white-rot fungi (Phanerochaete chrysosporium IMI 232175, Pleurotus ostreatus from the University of Alberta Microfungus Collection IMI 341687, Coriolus versicolor IMI 210866 and Wye isolate #7) and all possible combinations of two or more of these fungi, were incubated in microcosms containing wheat straw and non-sterile coal-tar contaminated soil to determine their potential to degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Biotic and abiotic controls were prepared similarly and PAH concentrations remaining in each microcosm were determined after 8, 16 and 32 weeks by GC-MS following extraction with dichloromethane. The greatest PAH losses were in the biotic control, compared to small or negligible differences in microcosms inoculated with one or more fungi. These results suggest that in the biotic control native microorganisms colonised the straw added as organic substrate and degraded PAH as an indirect consequence of their metabolism. By contrast, in other microcosms, colonisation of straw by the natural microflora was inhibited because the straw was previously inoculated with fungi. Soil cultures prepared at the end of the experiment showed that though introduced fungi were still alive, they were unable to thrive and degrade PAH in such a highly contaminated soil and remained in a metabolically inactive form.

PMID: 11131793 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]