Parallel artificial and biological electric circuits power petroleum decontamination: The case of snorkel and cable bacteria

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  • Ugo Marzocchi
  • Enza Palma, National Research Council (CNR)
  • ,
  • Simona Rossetti, National Research Council (CNR), Italy
  • Federico Aulenta, National Research Council (CNR)
  • ,
  • Alberto Scoma

Degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons (HC) in sediments is often limited by the availability of electron acceptors. By allowing long-distance electron transport (LDET) between anoxic sediments and oxic overlying water, bioelectrochemical snorkels may stimulate the regeneration of sulphate in the anoxic sediment thereby accelerating petroleum HC degradation. Cable bacteria can also mediate LDET between anoxic and oxic sediment layers and thus theoretically stimulate petroleum HC degradation. Here, we quantitatively assessed the impact of cable bacteria and snorkels on the degradation of alkanes in marine sediment from Aarhus Bay (Denmark). After seven weeks, cable bacteria and snorkels accelerated alkanes degradation by +24 and +25%, respectively, compared to control sediment with no cable bacteria nor snorkel. The combination of snorkels and cable bacteria further enhanced alkanes degradation (+46%). Higher degradation rates were sustained by LDET-induced sulphide removal rather than, as initially hypothesized, sulphate regeneration. Cable bacteria are thus overlooked players in the self-healing capacity of crude-oil contaminated sediments, and may inspire novel remediation treatments upon hydrocarbon spillage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115520
JournalWater Research
Volume173
Number of pages10
ISSN0043-1354
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Cable bacteria, Hydrocarbon, Long-distance electron transport, Remediation, Sediment, Snorkel, GEN. NOV., CARBON, SULFATE-REDUCING BACTERIUM, SP-NOV., SULFIDE, SULFUR-OXIDIZING CHEMOLITHOAUTOTROPH, RECLASSIFICATION, TRANSPORT, MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES, CELL

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