Environmental monitoring and assessment

Impact of Zn and Cu on the development of phenanthrene catabolism in soil.

PMID 23793648


Mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals are of major concern in contaminated soil. Biodegradation of PAHs in metal-contaminated soils is complicated because metals are toxic and cannot be degraded by biological processes. This investigation considered the effects of Zn and Cu (50, 100, 500 and 1,000 mg/kg) on (14)C-phenanthrene biodegradation in soil over 60-day contact time. The presence of Zn at all concentrations and low concentrations of Cu (50 and 100 mg/kg) had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on the development of phenanthrene catabolism; however, at higher Cu concentrations, the development of phenanthrene catabolism and bacterial cell numbers were significantly reduced (p < 0.05). This suggests that Cu is more toxic than Zn to soil microbial PAH catabolic activity. Metal/PAH-contaminated soils represent one of the most difficult remedial challenges and insights into PAH biodegradation in the presence of metals is necessary in order to assess the potential for bioremediation.