Proposal of biostimulation for hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH)-decontamination and characterization of culturable bacterial community from high-dose point HCH-contaminated soils
To locate a high-dose point hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH)-contaminated site, to identify HCH-degrading bacteria in it and assay HCH-decontamination by biostimulation. Methods and Results: Bacteria were isolated by serial dilution method from HCH-contaminated soil samples collected from areas near an HCH-manufacturing unit and its dumpsite in North India. After confirming the presence of indigenous HCH-degraders (seven of 24 strains), an ex situ biostimulation experiment was conducted. For this, residue levels in soil were diluted by mixing with pristine garden soil and aeration, moisture and nutrients were provided intermittently. This soil was monitored for reduction in Σ-HCH (sum of α-, β-, γ- and δ-HCH) levels and stimulation of HCH-degraders. Experiments were conducted twice, in March-April (c. 75 μg Σ-HCH g−1 soil) and October-November 2006 (c. 280 μg Σ-HCH g−1 soil) at 26-30°C. Σ-HCH levels were reduced to <30% of the original in 24 days and <3% in 240 days in the experimental pits. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis reflected changes in microbial community structure during the course of experiment. Conclusions: Our results show presence of HCH-degrading sphingomonads at a high-dose point HCH-contaminated site and presents biostimulation as an effective approach for its decontamination via aeration, addition of nutrients and moisture, of the indigenous population. Significance and Impact of the Study: The study demonstrates that biostimulation of indigenous HCH-degrading microbial population can be used for decontamination of chronically HCH-contaminated sites.