The Inoculation Method Affects Colonization and Performance of Bacterial Inoculant Strains in the Phytoremediation of Soil Contaminated with Diesel Oil
Plants in combination with microorganisms can remediate soils, which are contaminated with organic pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons. Inoculation of plants with degrading bacteria is one approach to improve remediation processes, but is often not successful due to the competition with resident microorganisms. It is therefore of high importance to address the persistence and colonization behavior of inoculant strains. The objective of this study was to determine whether the inoculation method (seed imbibement and soil inoculation) influences bacterial colonization, plant growth promotion and hydrocarbon degradation. Italian ryegrass was grown in non-sterilized soil polluted with diesel and inoculated with different alkane-degrading strains Pantoea sp. ITSI10, Pantoea sp. BTRH79 and Pseudomonas sp. MixRI75 individually as well as in combination. Inoculation generally had a beneficial effect on plant biomass production and hydrocarbon degradation, however, strains inoculated in soil performed better than applied by seed imbibement. Performance correlated with the colonization efficiency of the inoculated strains. The highest hydrocarbon degradation was observed in the treatment, in which all three strains were inoculated in combination into soil. Our study revealed that besides the degradation potential and competitive ability of inoculant strains the inoculation method plays an important role in determining the success of microbial inoculation.
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