Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are an important class of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment and accumulate in forest soils. These soils are often dominated by ectomycorrhizal (EcM) roots, but little is known about how EcM fungi degrade PAHs, or the overall effect of field colonized EcM roots on the fate of PAHs.
The ability of eight EcM fungi to degrade PAHs in liquid culture spiked with C-14 labelled PAHs was investigated. Microcosms were used to determine the impact of naturally colonized mycorrhizal pine seedlings on PAH mineralization and volatilization.
Only two EcM fungi (Thelephora terrestris and Laccaria laccata) degraded at least one PAH and none were able to mineralize the PAHs in pure culture. Where degradation occurred, the compounds were only mono-oxygenated. EcM pine seedlings did not alter naphthalene mineralization or volatilization but retarded fluorene mineralization by 35% compared with unplanted, ectomycorrhizosphere soil inoculated, microcosms.
The EcM fungi possessed limited PAH degrading abilities, which may explain why EcM dominated microcosms retarded fluorene mineralization. This observation is considered in relation to the 'Gadgil-effect', where retarded litter decomposition has been observed in the presence of EcM roots.
- ectomycorrhizal fungus
- Pinus sylvestris
- WHITE-ROT FUNGI
- MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI
- LIGNIN PEROXIDASE