Just Add Water and Salt: the Optimisation of Petrogenic Hydrocarbon Biodegradation in Soils from Semi-arid Barrow Island, Western Australia

Mark Tibbett, Suman George, A. Davie, A. Barron, N. Milton, Paul Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the potential of soil moisture and nutrient amendments to enhance the biodegradation of oil in the soils from an ecologically unique semi-arid island. This was achieved using a series of controlled laboratory incubations where moisture or nutrient levels were experimentally manipulated. Respired CO2 increased sharply with moisture amendment reflecting the severe moisture limitation of these porous and semi-arid soils. The greatest levels of CO2 respiration were generally obtained with a soil pore water saturation of 50-70%. Biodegradation in these nutrient poor soils was also promoted by the moderate addition of a nitrogen fertiliser. Increased biodegradation was greater at the lowest amendment rate (100 mg N kg(-1) soil) than the higher levels (500 or 1,000 mg N kg(-1) soil), suggesting the higher application rates may introduce N toxicity. Addition of phosphorous alone had little effect, but a combined 500 mg N and 200 mg P kg(-1) soil amendment led to a synergistic increase in CO2 respiration (3.0x), suggesting P can limit the biodegradation of hydrocarbons following exogenous N amendment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-525
JournalWater Air and Soil Pollution
Volume216
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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