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Environ Pollut. 2013 Feb;173:231-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.09.020. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Effects of plant species identity, diversity and soil fertility on biodegradation of phenanthrene in soil.

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Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, United Kingdom.


The work presented in this paper investigated the effects of plant species composition, species diversity and soil fertility on biodegradation of (14)C-phenanthrene in soil. The two soils used were of contrasting fertility, taken from long term unfertilised and fertilised grassland, showing differences in total nitrogen content (%N). Plant communities consisted of six different plant species: two grasses, two forbs, and two legume species, and ranged in species richness from 1 to 6. The degradation of (14)C-phenanthrene was evaluated by measuring indigenous catabolic activity following the addition of the contaminant to soil using respirometry. Soil fertility was a driving factor in all aspects of (14)C-phenanthrene degradation; lag phase, maximum rates and total extents of (14)C-phenanthrene mineralisation were higher in improved soils compared to unimproved soils. Plant identity had a significant effect on the lag phase and extents of mineralisation. Soil fertility was the major influence also on abundance of microbial communities.

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