Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Microbial activities in boreal soils: Biodegradation of organic contaminants at low temperature and ammonia oxidation

Jukka Kurola

Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Ecological and Environmental Sciences and University of Helsinki, Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Division of Microbiology.

This thesis deals with the response of biodegradation of selected anthropogenic organic contaminants and natural autochthonous organic matter to low temperature in boreal surface soils. Furthermore, the thesis describes activity, diversity and population size of autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in a boreal soil used for landfarming of oil-refinery wastes, and presents a new approach, in which the particular AOB were enriched and cultivated in situ from the landfarming soil onto cation exchange membranes. This thesis demonstrates that rhizosphere fraction of natural forest humus soil and agricultural clay loam soil from Helsinki Metropolitan area were capable of degrading of low to moderate concentrations (0.2 - 50 g cm-3) of PCP, phenanthrene and 2,4,5-TCP at temperatures realistic to boreal climate (-2.5 to +15 C). At the low temperatures, the biodegradation of PCP, phenanthrene and 2,4,5-TCP was more effective (Q10-values from 1.6 to 7.6) in the rhizosphere fraction of the forest soil than in the agricultural soil. Q10-values of endogenous soil respiration (carbon dioxide evolution) and selected hydrolytic enzyme activities (acetate-esterase, butyrate-esterase and β-glucosidase) in acid coniferous forest soil were 1.6 to 2.8 at temperatures from -3 to +30 C. The results indicated that the temperature dependence of decomposition of natural autochthonous soil organic matter in the studied coniferous forest was only moderate.

The numbers of AOB in the landfarming (sandy clay loam) soil were determined with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR) and with Most Probable Number (MPN) methods, and potential ammonium oxidation activity was measured with the chlorate inhibition technique. The results indicated presence of large and active AOB populations in the heavily oil-contaminated and urea-fertilised landfarming soil. Assessment of the populations of AOB with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiling and sequence analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes showed that Nitrosospira-like AOB in clusters 2 and 3 were predominant in the oily landfarming soil. This observation was supported by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis of the AOB grown on the soil-incubated cation-exchange membranes. The results of this thesis expand the suggested importance of Nitrosospira-like AOB in terrestrial environments to include chronically oil-contaminated soils.

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Last updated 26.09.2006

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