Biological Degradation of Pesticide Wastes in the Root Zone of Soils Collected at an Agrochemical Dealership

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Friday, August 12, 1994
Todd A Anderson
Ellen L. Kruger
Joel R. Coats
Journal Title: 

Evidence for enhanced microbial degradation of xenobiotic chemicals in the rhizosphere, a zone of increased microbial activity at the root-soil interface, continues to accrue, suggesting that vegetation may play an important role in facilitating bioremediation of contaminated surface soils. For sites tainted with pesticide wastes, such as at agrochemical dealerships, establishing vegetation may be problematic because of the presence of herbicide mixtures at concentrations severalfold above field application rates. Nonetheless, herbicide-tolerant plants exist that can survive in these environments, and they are ideal candidates for testing the influence of rhizosphere microbial communities on the degradation of pesticide wastes. Experiments in this laboratory have tested whether a commodity plant such as soybean could survive in soil from a pesticide-contaminated site containing a mixture of three predominant herbicides, atrazine, metolachlor, and trifluralin, and if its presence could enhance biodegradation. Although soybean survival in this soil was high, its presence did not enhance the degradation of the chemicals. Tests with nonvegetated soils and rhizosphere soils from Kochia sp., a herbicide-tolerant plant, showed enhanced degradation of these chemicals in rhizosphere soil. Also, Kochia sp. seedlings have emerged from rhizosphere soils spiked with additional concentrations of the three test chemicals, indicating the ability of these plants to survive in soils containing high concentrations of herbicide mixtures.