Degradation of Crude Oil in the Rhizosphere of Sorghum bicolor

Margaret Katherine Banks, Peter Kulakow, A. P. Schwab, Zeke Chen, Karrie Rathbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Dissipation of petroleum contaminants in the rhizosphere is likely the result of enhanced microbial degradation. Plant roots may encourage rhizosphere microbial activity through exudation of nutrients and by providing channels for increased water flow andgas diffusion. Phytoremediation of crude oil in soil was examined in this study using carefully selected plant species monitored over specific plant growth stages. Four sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) genotypes with differing root characteristics and levels of exudation were established in a sandy loam soil contaminated with 2700 mg crude oil/kg soil. Soils were sampled at three stages of plant growth: five leaf, flowering, and maturity. All vegetated treatments were associated with higher remediation efficiency, resulting in significantly lower total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations than unvegetated controls. A relationship between root exudation and bioremediation efficiency was not apparent for these genotypes, although the presence of all sorghum genotypes resulted in significant removal of crude oil from the impacted soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • Crude oil
  • Petroleum
  • Phytoremediation
  • Rhizosphere
  • Sorghum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Plant Science


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