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Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Vol. 124, 2016, Pages: 120–128

Ecotoxicity monitoring and bioindicator screening of oil-contaminated soil during bioremediation

Weihang Shen, Nengwu Zhu, Jiaying Cui, Huajin Wang, Zhi Dang, Pingxiao Wu, Yidan Luo, Chaohong Shi

School of Environment and Energy, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, PR China.


A series of toxicity bioassays was conducted to monitor the ecotoxicity of soils in the different phases of bioremediation. Artificially oil-contaminated soil was inoculated with a petroleum hydrocarbon-degrading bacterial consortium containing Burkholderia cepacia GS3C, Sphingomonas GY2B and Pandoraea pnomenusa GP3B strains adapted to crude oil. Soil ecotoxicity in different phases of bioremediation was examined by monitoring total petroleum hydrocarbons, soil enzyme activities, phytotoxicity (inhibition of seed germination and plant growth), malonaldehyde content, superoxide dismutase activity and bacterial luminescence. Although the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentration in soil was reduced by 64.4%, forty days after bioremediation, the phytotoxicity and Photobacterium phosphoreum ecotoxicity test results indicated an initial increase in ecotoxicity, suggesting the formation of intermediate metabolites characterized by high toxicity and low bioavailability during bioremediation. The ecotoxicity values are a more valid indicator for evaluating the effectiveness of bioremediation techniques compared with only using the total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations. Among all of the potential indicators that could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of bioremediation techniques, soil enzyme activities, phytotoxicity (inhibition of plant height, shoot weight and root fresh weight), malonaldehyde content, superoxide dismutase activity and luminescence of P. phosphoreum were the most sensitive.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Oil-contaminated soil; Bioremediation; Ecotoxicity; Bioindicator.
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