Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a widespread soil and groundwater pollutant and clean-up is often problematic and expensive. Phytoremediation may be a cost-effective solution at some sites. This study investigates TCE degradation by willows (S. viminalis) and willows inoculated with three strains of B. cepacia (301C, PR1-31 and VM1330-pTOM), using chloride formation as an indicator of dehalogenation. Willows were grown in non-sterile, hydroponic conditions for 3 weeks in chloride-free nutrient solution spiked with TCE. TCE was added weekly due to rapid loss by volatilization. Chloride and TCE in solution were measured every 2–3 days and chloride and metabolite concentrations in plants were measured at test termination. Based on transpiration, no tree toxicity of TCE exposure was observed. However, trees grown in chloride-free solution showed severely inhibited transpiration. No or very little chloride was formed during the test, and levels of chloride in TCE-exposed trees were not elevated. Chloride concentrations in chloride containing TCE-free nutrient solution doubled within 23 days, indicating active exclusion of chloride by root cell membranes. Only traces of TCE-metabolites were detected in plant tissue. We conclude that TCE is not, or to a limited extent (less than 3%), aerobically degraded by the willow trees. The three strains of B. cepacia did not enhance TCE mineralization. Future successful application of rhizo- and phytodegradation of TCE requires measures to be taken to improve the degradation rates.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 21, 2017
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