Organic carbon effects on aerobic polychlorinated biphenyl removal and bacterial community composition in soils and sediments

Wensui Luo, Elisa M. D'Angelo, Mark S. Coyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Certain organic compounds, including biphenyl and salicylic acid, stimulate polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) degradation by microorganisms in some environments. However, the usefulness of these amendments for improving PCB removal by microorganisms from diverse habitats has not been extensively explored. This study evaluated the effects of biphenyl, salicylic acid, and glucose on changes in aerobic PCB removal and bacterial communities from an agricultural soil, a wetland peat soil, a river sediment, and a mixture of these samples. PCB removal patterns were significantly different between soils and sediments amended with carbon compounds: (i) terrestrial soil microorganisms removed more PCBs than river sediment microorganisms, particularly with regard to PCBs with >4 chlorine substituents, (ii) glucose-supplemented, agricultural soil microorganisms removed more hexachlorobiphenyl than unsupplemented samples, (iii) biphenyl-supplemented, river sediment microorganisms removed more di- and tri-chlorobiphenyls than unamended samples. Carbon amendments also caused unique shifts in soil and sediment bacterial communities, as determined by specific changes in bacterial 16S rRNA denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis banding patterns. These results indicate that organic carbon amendments had site-specific effects on bacterial populations and PCB removal. Further work is needed to more accurately characterize PCB degrading communities and functional gene expression in diverse types of environments to better understand how they respond to bioremediation treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-373
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a National Science Foundation Grant and the College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky.


  • Biphenyl
  • Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis
  • Glucose
  • PCB
  • Salicylic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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