• Phytoremediation strategies for recalcitrant chlorinated organics

      Schnabel, William Edwin; White, Daniel (2000)
      The purpose of the research was to investigate novel strategies for the phytoremediation of recalcitrant chlorinated organic soil contaminants. The recalcitrance of many chlorinated organics is related to chemical stability and bioavailability. Mycorrhizal fungi have the potential to enhance the degradation of such compounds through the action of lignolytic enzyme systems, and to increase the bioavailability of such compounds through increased root surface area and reach. Furthermore, the addition of surfactants has the potential to increase compound bioavailability via increased solubility. The organochlorine pesticide aldrin, and the polychlorinated biphenyl 3,3'4,4 '-tetrachlorobiphenyl (TCB) were chosen as representative recalcitrant contaminants. Feltleaf willow (Salix alaxensis) and balsain poplar (Populus balsamifera) were chosen as vegetative species likely to be useful for phytoremediation in sub-arctic ecosystems. Mixed-culture mycorrhizal fungi were first shown to be capable of taking up the hydrophobic contaminants in vitro. In the same experiments, surfactant addition increased the level of contaminant uptake. In subsequent vegetative uptake studies, mycorrhizal infection was highly correlated with the uptake of aldrin and TCB in the willow systems. In the poplar systems, this correlation was not as strong. Once taken up into the vegetative matrix of either species, most of the carbon originating from the chlorinated compounds existed as bound transformation products. Additionally, water-soluble transformation products of aldrin were formed in all of the soils tested, and such transformations were enhanced in the presence of vegetation. TCB transformation products were not detected in any of the soils tested. Surfactant addition did not impact the fate of either contaminant in the vegetative uptake studies. The surfactants, in the concentrations added, did not sufficiently solubilize the contaminants into the soil solution. The results of these studies indicated that the phytoremediation of recalcitrant chlorinated organics such as aldrin and TCB could be enhanced through the action of mycorrhizal fungi, and that surfactant addition has the potential to increase mycorrhizal uptake. Field studies were recommended, involving the use of specific degradative fungal species and effective surfactants.