Functional genes reveal the intrinsic PAH biodegradation potential in creosote-contaminated groundwater following in situ biostimulation

Mari Nyyssönen (Corresponding Author), Anu Kapanen, Reetta Piskonen, Tuomas Lukkari, Merja Itävaara

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A small-scale functional gene array containing 15 functional gene probes targeting aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation pathways was used to investigate the effect of a pilot-scale air sparging and nutrient infiltration treatment on hydrocarbon biodegradation in creosote-contaminated groundwater. Genes involved in the different phases of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) biodegradation were detected with the functional gene array in the contaminant plume, thus indicating the presence of intrinsic biodegradation potential. However, the low aerobic fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 16S rRNA genes closely similar to sulphate-reducing and denitrifying bacteria and the negligible decrease in contaminant concentrations showed that aerobic PAH biodegradation was limited in the anoxic groundwater. Increased abundance of PAH biodegradation genes was detected by functional gene array in the monitoring well located at the rear end of the biostimulated area, which indicated that air sparging and nutrient infiltration enhanced the intrinsic, aerobic PAH biodegradation. Furthermore, ten times higher naphthalene dioxygenase gene copy numbers were detected by real-time PCR in the biostimulated area, which was in good agreement with the functional gene array data. As a result, functional gene array analysis was demonstrated to provide a potential tool for evaluating the efficiency of the bioremediation treatment for enhancing hydrocarbon biodegradation in field-scale applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



  • Bioremediation
  • Functional gene
  • Gene array
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • Air sparging
  • Nutrient infiltration

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