The phytotoxicity and degradation of diesel hydrocarbons in soil

Samina Siddiqui, William A. Adams, John Scullion

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15 Citations (SciVal)


Hydrocarbon contamination in soils may be toxic to plants and soil microorganisms and act as a source of groundwater contamination. The objective of the study was to evaluate the fate of adding diesel in soil with no previous history of hydrocarbon contamination. Particular aspects examined were soil respiration, changes in microbial population, breakdown of diesel hydrocarbon and phytotoxicity to germination of ryegrass. Soil respiration was measured as evolved CO2. Bacterial population was determined as Colony Forming Units (CFUs) in dilution plates, and fungal activity was measured as hyphal length. The fate of individual hydrocarbons was determined by GC-MS after extraction with dichloromethane. When 0.64 % (w/w) of diesel was added to soil, the respiration response showed a lag phase of 2 days and maximum respiration occurred at day 7. The lag phase was 5 days and maximum respiration occurred at day 11 in soil after adding 1.6 %, 4.0 %, and 13.6 % of diesel (w/w). After the peak, respiration decreased up to 20 days, in each of the four levels of diesel addition to the soil. Thereafter, respiration becomes more or less constant but substantially greater than the control. Diesel addition up to 4.0 % (w/w) increased the bacterial population to 10 fold but fungal hyphal length did not increase. However, bacterial population did not increase after adding 13.6 % (w/w) of diesel and fungal hyphal length was significantly less than the control and other three levels of diesel. Removal of inhibition to germination of perennial ryegrass was linked to the decomposition of n-C10 and n-C11 hydrocarbons and took from 11 to 30 days depending on the levels of diesel added to the soil. Contamination with 13.6 % (w/w) of diesel inhibited the germination of perennial ryegrass until 24 weeks of incubation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-635
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2002


  • hydrocarbons
  • phytotoxicity
  • germination
  • diesel
  • decomposition
  • respiration


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