Microbial communities in different soil types do not converge after diesel contamination

J. G. Bundy, Graeme Iain Paton, C. D. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To study the comparative effect of diesel addition and simulated bioremediation on the microbial community in three different soil types.

Methods and Results: Three different soils were amended with diesel and bioremediation treatment simulated by addition of nutrients. The progress of bioremediation, and the effect on the indigenous microbial communities, was monitored using microbiological techniques. These included basal respiration, sole carbon source utilization patterns using both a commercially-available substrate set and a set designed to highlight changes in hydrocarbon-utilizing bacteria, and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiling. The development of active hydrocarbon-degrading communities was indicated by the disappearance of diesel, increases in soil respiration and biomass, and large changes in the sole carbon source utilization patterns and PLFA profiles compared with control soils. However, comparison of the relative community structure of the three soils using PLFA profiling showed that there was no tendency for the community structure of the three different soil types to converge as a result of contamination. In fact, they became more dissimilar as a result. Changes in the sole carbon source utilization patterns using the commercially-available set of carbon sources indicated the same result as shown by PLFA profiling. The specially selected set of carbon sources yielded no additional information compared with the commercially-available set.

Conclusions: Diesel contamination does not result in the development of similar community profiles in different soil types.

Significance and Impact of the Study: The results suggest that different soils have different inherent microbial potential to degrade hydrocarbons, a finding that should be taken into account in impact and risk assessments. Following the development of the microbial community and its recovery is a useful and sensitive way of monitoring the impact and recovery of oil-contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-288
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2002




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