Importance of chemical structure on the development of hydrocarbon catabolism in soil

Jacqueline L. Stroud, Graeme I. Paton, Kirk T. Semple*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


A soil was amended with 14C-analogues of naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene, B[a]P or hexadecane at 50 mg kg-1 and the development of catabolic activity was assessed by determining the rate and extent of 14CO2 evolution at time points over 180 days. The catabolic potential of the soil was hexadecane>naphthalene> phenanthrene>pyrene>B[a]P, determined by the decrease in lag time (as defined by the time taken for 5% 14CO2 to be evolved from the minerialization of the 14C-labeled hydrocarbons). The results clearly showed the difference between constitutive and inducible biodegradation systems. The 0 day time point showed that hexadecane minerialization was rapid and immediate, with a 45.4 ± 0.6% mineralization extent, compared with pyrene minerialization at 1.0 ± 0.1%. However, catabolism for pyrene developed over time and after a 95 days soil-pyrene contact time, mineralization extent was found to be 63.1 ± 7.8%. Strong regression was found (r 2>0.99) between the maximum rates of mineralization and the partioning coefficient between the mineralized hydrocarbons, which may indicate linearity in the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • Hexadecane
  • Indigenous catabolic activity
  • PAHs


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