Effects of Irrigation on Alkane Biodegradation of Oil-Contaminated Desert Soils

Thirumahal Muthukrishnan, Raeid M.M. Abed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Biodegradation in oil-contaminated desert soils can be limited by the lack of nutrients and/or water. We investigated the effect of irrigation, using nutrient-free and -amended distilled water, sewage water and seawater on alkane degradation rates in an oil-contaminated desert soil. Nutrient-amended soils exhibited the highest alkane degradation rate (74%). MiSeq sequencing of nutrient-amended soils revealed the dominance of Gammaproteobacteria, with most sequences belonging to Sphingomonas. From this soil, 50% of the isolated alkane-degrading strains belonged to Pseudomonas. Sewage-treated soils showed the most prominent bacterial community shift in favor of Firmicutes. Bacterial diversity suggested the introduction of microorganisms from sewage water and the development of anoxic conditions. Seawater-treated soils exhibited the lowest degradation rates (11%), owing to the increase in soil salinity, although known alkane-degrading bacteria like Alcanivorax and Sphingomonas were detectable. We conclude that not mere irrigation but irrigation with nutrients significantly enhances biodegradation rates in oil-contaminated desert soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-648
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Processes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2018


  • Biodegradation
  • Desert soils
  • Illumina MiSeq
  • Irrigation
  • Nutrients
  • Sewage water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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