Degradation of xenobiotic compounds in situ: capabilities and limits


Exploiting microorganisms for remediation of waste sites is a promising alternative to groundwater pumping and above ground treatment. The objective of in situ bioremediation is to stimulate the growth of indigenous or introduced microorganisms in regions of subsurface contamination, and thus to provide direct contact between microorganisms and the dissolved and sorbed contaminants for biotransformation. Subsurface microorganisms detected at a former manufactured gas plant site contaminated with coal tars mineralized significant amounts of naphthalene (8–43%) and phenanthrene (3–31%) in sediment-water microcosms incubated for 4 weeks under aerobic conditions. Evidence was obtained for naphthalene mineralization (8–13%) in the absence of oxygen in field samples. These data suggest that biodegradation of these compounds is occurring at the site, and the prospects are good for enhancing this biodegradation. Additional batch studies demonstrated that sorption of naphthalene onto aquifer materials reduced the extent and rate of biodegradation, indicating that desorption rate was controlling the biodegradation performance.




Bouwer, E., N. Durant, L. Wilson, W. Zhang and A. Cunningham, "Degradation of xenobiotic compounds in situ: capabilities and limits," FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 15(2-3):307-317 (1994).
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