Rhizosphere microbial characterization in petroleum-contaminated soil

M. Katherine Banks, Hadessa Mallede, Karrie Rathbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Contamination of soil with petroleum compounds is of concern worldwide. Although there are a variety of physical and chemical technologies available to remediate petroleum waste sites, biological methods are often used due to lower cost and public acceptance. Growth and enhanced activity of microbial communities in contaminated soil is a key factor for the success of bioremediation. Establishing vegetation in petroleum-contaminated soil may enhance microbial activity and remediation success even further by providing root exudates to the rhizosphere microorganisms. In this study, microorganisms were characterized in petroleum-contaminated soils and sediments quantitatively and qualitatively based on enumeration and metabolic diversity assessments. Contaminated soils and sediments were obtained from a phytoremediation field demonstration project in California. Microbial numbers in the unvegetated soil, based on plate counts and most probable number of hydrocarbon degraders, were significantly lower than the vegetated soils. Metabolic microbial characterization using BIOLOG was also conducted and based on principle component analysis (PCA), there was a distinct difference between the metabolic diversity of microbial communities in vegetated and unvegetated soils. Results from this research indicate that the presence and type of plants, and level of contamination may greatly influence microbial communities in polluted soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-385
Number of pages15
JournalSoil and Sediment Contamination
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • Bioremediation
  • PCA
  • Petroleum-contaminated soils
  • Phytoremediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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