Bioavailability of hydrocarbons to bacterial consortia during Triton X-100 mediated biodegradation in aqueous media
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The aim of our study was to investigate the effect of Triton X-100 on the biodegradation efficiency of hexadecane and phenanthrene carried out by two bacterial consortia. It was established that the tested consortia were not able to directly uptake compounds closed in micelles. It was observed that in micellar systems the nonionic synthetic surfactant was preferentially degraded (the degradation efficiency of Triton X-100 after 21 days was 70% of the initial concentration - 500 mg/l), followed by a lesser decomposition of hydrocarbon released from the micelles (30% for hexadecane and 20% for phenanthrene). However, when hydrocarbons were used as the sole carbon source, 70% of hexadecane and 30% of phenanthrene were degraded. The degradation of the surfactant did not contribute to notable shifts in bacterial community dynamics, as determined by Real-Time PCR. The obtained results suggest that if surfactant-supplementation is to be used as an integral part of a bioremediation process, then possible bioavailability decrease due to entrapment of the contaminant into surfactant micelles should also be taken into consideration, as this phenomenon may have a negative impact on the biodegradation efficiency. Surfactant-induced mobilization of otherwise recalcitrant hydrocarbons may contribute to the spreading of contaminants in the environment and prevent their biodegradation.
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