Bioaccumulation and translocation factors of petroleum hydrocarbons in Aeluropus littoralis

Mohammad Rafiee, Mahsa Jahangiri Rad, Arash Afshari


Background: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which consist of fused conjugated aromatic rings, not only are toxic to humans and other living organisms, but will also pollute groundwater. These compounds can be point source or non-point source and are one of the most widespread organic pollutants. Some of them are suspected carcinogens and are linked to other health problems. This study was carried out to assess the petroleum hydrocarbon phytoremediation potential of the Aeluropus littoralis species. Accumulation of PAHs in roots and upper parts of A. littoralis has been determined. Translocation factor (TF) was also calculated.
Methods: In this study, soil samples were taken from the vicinity of Isfahan oil refinery, and the PAHs compounds were analyzed with gas chromatography. One-meter soil columns were prepared from the control and contaminated soil. Unplanted A. littoralis treatments were also prepared to eliminate the effects of environmental factors on the reduction of oil-based contaminants. Seventeen weeks after planting, soil columns were sampled at 25, 50, 75, and 100 cm depths, and the concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons and number of oil-degrading bacteria were counted. Moreover, the roots and shoots of A. littoralis were separated and weighed.
Results: Results indicated that A. littoralis reduced the concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons to a significantly higher extent than the control treatment. Increasing depth was associated with improved petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations and decreased number of oil-degrading bacteria. Mostly, the bioaccumulation factor (BAF) of PAHs was <1, which shows A. littoralis could be an excluder of PAHs. The results also showed that the TF of PAHs was less than one, and hence, A. littoralis could be considered as an accumulator of PAHs.
Conclusion: It can be concluded that this species is suitable for use in the phytoremediation of PAHS contamination. For further confirmation, an evaluation under field conditions should be undertaken.


Biodegradation; Soil; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Aeluropus littoralis plant

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