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Influence of rhamnolipid biosurfactant and Brij-35 synthetic surfactant on 14C-Pyrene mineralization in soil

Wolf, D.C., Gan, J.
Environmental pollution 2018 v.243 pp. 1846-1853
Mycobacterium vanbaalenii, bacteria, bioavailability, biodegradation, bioremediation, biosurfactants, carbon, carcinogenicity, mineralization, pollutants, polluted soils, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, rhamnolipids, soil microorganisms, soil pollution, solubility, sorption
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous contaminants in soil and are considered priority pollutants due to their carcinogenicity. Bioremediation of PAH-contaminated soils is often limited by the low solubility and strong sorption of PAHs in soil. Synthetic surfactants and biosurfactants have been used to enhance the bioavailability of PAHs and to accelerate microbial degradation. However, few studies have compared synthetic and biosurfactants in their efficiency in promoting PAH biodegradation in either native or bioaugmented soils. In this study, we evaluated mineralization of 14C-pyrene in soils with or without the augmentation of Mycobacterium vanbaalenii PYR-1, and characterized the effect of Brij-35 (synthetic) and rhamnolipid biosurfactant at different amendment rates. Treatment of rhamnolipid biosurfactant at 140 or 1400 μg surfactant g-dry soil−1 rates resulted in a significantly longer lag period in 14C-pyrene mineralization in both native and bioaugmented soils. In contrast, amendment of Brij-35 generally increased 14C-pyrene degradation, and the greatest enhancement occurred at 21.6 or 216 μg surfactant g-dry soil−1 rates, which may be attributed to increased bioavailability. Brij-35 and rhamnolipid biosurfactant were found to be non-toxic to M. vanbaalenii PYR-1 at 10X CMC, thus indicating rhamnolipid biosurfactant likely served as a preferential carbon source to the degrading bacteria in place of 14C-pyrene, leading to delayed and inhibited 14C-pyrene degradation. Mineralization of 14C-pyrene by M. vanbaalenii PYR-1 was rapid in the unamended soils, and up to 60% of pyrene was mineralized to 14CO2 after 10 d in the unamended or Brij-35 surfactant-amended soils. Findings of this study suggest that application of surfactants may not always lead to enhanced PAH biodegradation or removal. If the surfactant is preferentially used as an easier carbon substrate than PAHs for soil microorganisms, it may actually inhibit PAH biodegradation. Selection of surfactant types is therefore crucial for the effectiveness of surfactant-aided bioremediation of PAH-contaminated soils.