Interaction of Various Plant Species with Microbial PCB-Degraders in Contaminated Soils

EPA Grant Number: R828770C008
Subproject: this is subproject number 008 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R828770
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC (2001) - Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center
Center Director: Banks, M. Katherine
Title: Interaction of Various Plant Species with Microbial PCB-Degraders in Contaminated Soils
Investigators: Rugh, Clayton , Dutta, Sisir
Institution: Michigan State University , Howard University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management


Remediation of industrial sites contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is a serious problem in the US. Biologically based remediation, or bioremediation, has been proposed as a less expensive, more environmentally compatible approach for the degradation of these contaminants. Bioremediation of PCBs by bacterial treatment has been demonstrated at the laboratory and pilot levels and may provide an in situ method of destruction and removal of these environmental toxins. Plant-based bioremediation, or phytoremediation, has been utilized for an extensive array of organic compounds. Plants and plant tissue cultures have been shown to have some capabilities for PCB tolerance and degradation. Microbial activity may serve to provide breakdown products of greater bioavailability and uptake for the plants. In the proposed research, a wide variety of plant species will be selected for introduction and growth in samples of PCB-contaminated sediments. The selected plant taxa will represent a wide range of distantly related taxa to comprise a variety of growth habits, e.g. grass, herbaceous, shrubby, and woody species.


Plants will be grown in untreated or sterilized soils, a subset of which will then be inoculated with identified PCB-degrading microbes. Well characterized PCB-degrading strains of the bacterial genera Acinetobacter and Alcaligenes and the fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium will be used independently as supplemental inocula into the treatment rhizosphere. Plant and soil samples shall be obtained and analyzed for total PCB content as well as PCB congener profile. Microbe-specific 16S RNA gene primers will be utilized to monitor the growth of each of the supplemental inocula for each treatment. In the secondary stage of the study, greenhouse conditions will allow for larger and more prolonged plant growth. In addition to larger volume replicates of the initial single-species tests, it will now be possible to use mixed plant and bacterial populations to further mimic natural sites. Such a variety of growth habits and root morphologies may provide enhanced microbial complementation due to greater variability in root exudate resources and soil integration.

Expected Results:

This research project will determine how plants actually contribute to geochemical distribution or trophic uptake of PCB constituents, with particular attention to the influence of microbial enrichments. Additionally, it will allow characterization of the most beneficial plant species and combinations for both uptake and degradation or phytostimulation of microbial-based remediation. These experiments will lead to the design of a natural treatment scheme for PCB uptake and destruction along with the attendant plant-derived benefits of contaminated water removal and erosion control.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 8 publications for this subprojectView all 108 publications for this center

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 2 journal articles for this subprojectView all 14 journal articles for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

Bioremediation, PCBs, microbial degraders., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, Hazardous Waste, Bioremediation, Hazardous, degradation, plant species, industrial waste, microbial degradation, bioavailability, biodegradation, contaminated sediment, microbes, contaminated soil, PCB contaminated soil, contaminants in soil, PCB, bioremediation of soils, biochemistry, phytoremediation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R828770    HSRC (2001) - Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R828770C001 Technical Outreach Services for Communities
    R828770C002 Technical Outreach Services for Native American Communities
    R828770C003 Sustainable Remediation
    R828770C004 Incorporating Natural Attenuation Into Design and Management Strategies For Contaminated Sites
    R828770C005 Metals Removal by Constructed Wetlands
    R828770C006 Adaptation of Subsurface Microbial Biofilm Communities in Response to Chemical Stressors
    R828770C007 Dewatering, Remediation, and Evaluation of Dredged Sediments
    R828770C008 Interaction of Various Plant Species with Microbial PCB-Degraders in Contaminated Soils
    R828770C009 Microbial Indicators of Bioremediation Potential and Success