Greenhouse and field assessment of phytoremediation for petroleum contaminants in a riparian zone

Katy Euliss, Chi hua Ho, A. P. Schwab, Steve Rock, M. Katherine Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Greenhouse and field studies were conducted to evaluate the feasibility of phytoremediation for clean-up of highly contaminated sediments from Indiana Harbor. In the greenhouse study, plant species evaluated were willow (Salix exigua), poplar (Populus spp.), eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), arrowhead (Sagitaria latifolia), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and sedge (Carex stricta). Sediments with sedge, switchgrass, and gamagrass had significantly less residual total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) after one year of growth (approximately 70% reduction) than sediments containing willow, poplar, or no plants (approximately 20% reduction). Although not all polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) had concentration differences due to the presence of plants, residual pyrene concentrations in the unvegetated pots were significantly higher than in pots containing sedge, switchgrass, arrowhead, and gamagrass. As evaluated by TPH dissipation in the upper section of the pots, the sedge, switchgrass, and gamagrass treatments had higher TPH degradation than the unvegetated, willow and poplar treatments. These trends were similar for soil at the bottom of the pots, with the exception that in the switchgrass treatment, degradation was not significantly different than in the unvegetated soil. Two target contaminants, pyrene and benzo[b]fluoranthene, showed differences in degradation between planted and unvegetated treatments. In the field study, phytoremediation plant species were eastern gamagrass (T. dactyloides), switchgrass (P. virgatum), and sedge (C. stricta). In addition, rhizosphere characteristics of arrowhead (S. latifolia) and sedge were assessed. Arrowhead- and sedge-impacted soils were found to contain significantly more PAH-degrading bacteria than unvegetated soils. However, over the 12-month field study, no significant differences in contamination were found between the planted and unplanted soils for TPH and PAH concentrations. TPH concentrations near the canal were greater than concentrations further from the canal, indicating that the canal may have served as a continuous source of contamination during the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1961-1971
Number of pages11
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Contamination
  • Petroleum
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plant
  • Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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