Biodegradation of Aliphatic vs. Aromatic Hydrocarbons in fertilized arctic soils

Joan F. Braddock, James L. Walworth, Kathleen A. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to (1) test a simple bioremediation treatment strategy in the Arctic and (2) examine the effect of fertilization on the degradation of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. The site is a coarse sand pad that once supported fuel storage tanks. Concentrations of diesel-range organics at the beginning of the study (July 1996) ranged from 250 to 860 mg/kg soil. Replicate field plots treated with fertilizer yielded final concentrations of 0, 50, 100, or 200 mg N/kg soil. Soil samples were collected three times during the thaw season and analyzed for physical and chemical properties, microbial populations and activities, and concentrations of semivolatile hydrocarbons. Soil pH and soil-water potentials declined as a result of fertilizer application. Addition of fertilizer significantly increased soil respiration potentials, but not the populations of microorganisms measured. Fertilizer addition also resulted in ~50% loss of measured aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in surface and subsurface soils. For fertilized plots, hydrocarbon loss was not related to the amount of fertilizer added. Losses of aliphatic hydrocarbons were attributed to biotic processes, whereas losses of aromatic hydrocarbons likely were a result of both biotic and abiotic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalBioremediation Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • Arctic
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Bioremediation
  • Nutrients
  • Soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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