Potential natural attenuation of petroleum hydrocarbons in fuel contaminated soils: Focusing on anaerobic fuel biodegradation involving microbial Fe(III) reduction

Myeong Jung Kang, Han Suk Kim, Yidan Zhang, Kanghyun Park, Ho Young Jo, Kevin T. Finneran, Man Jae Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Liquid fossil fuels, collectively known as total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), are highly toxic and frequently leak into subsurface environments due to anthropogenic activities. As an in-situ biological remedial option for TPH contamination, aerobic TPH biodegradation is limited due to oxygen's low solubility in water, and because it is consumed quickly by aerobic bacteria. Thus, we investigated the potential of anaerobic TPH degradation by indigenous fermenting bacteria and Fe(III)-reducing bacteria. Twenty 6–10 m soil cores were collected from a closed military base subject to ongoing TPH contamination since the 1980s. Physicochemical and microbial properties were determined at 0.5-m intervals in each core. To assess the relationship between TPH degradation and microbial Fe(III) reduction, soil samples were grouped into high-TPH (>500 mg kg−1) and high-Fe(II) (>450 mg kg−1), high-TPH and low-Fe(II), low-TPH and high-Fe(II), and low-TPH and low-Fe(II) groups. Alpha diversity was significantly lower in high-TPH groups than in low-TPH groups, suggesting that high TPH concentrations exerted a strong selective pressure on bacterial communities. In the high-TPH and low-Fe(II) group, fermenting bacteria, including Microgenomatia and Chlamydiae, were more abundant, suggesting that TPH biodegradation occurred via fermentation. In the high-TPH and high-Fe(II) group, Fe(III)-reducing bacteria, including Geobacter and Zoogloea, were more abundant, suggesting that microbial Fe(III) reduction enhances TPH biodegradation. In contrast, the fermenting and/or Fe(III)-reducing bacteria were not statistically abundant in the low-TPH groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140134
JournalChemosphere
Volume341
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Nov

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Fe(III)-Reducing bacteria
  • Fermenting bacteria
  • Microbial community
  • TPH biodegradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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