Microbial population changes in tropical agricultural soil experimentally contaminated with crude petroleum

  • OS Obayori
  • MO Ilori
  • SA Adebusoye
  • OO Amund
  • GO Oyetibo
Keywords: Biodegradation, crude petroleum, heterotrophic counts, hydrocarbon-utilizers, microflora, pollution, residual oil concentration.


Impacts of crude petroleum pollution on the soil environment and microbial population dynamics as well as recovery rates of an abandoned farmland was monitored for seven months spanning the two
major seasons in Nigeria with a view to establishing process conditions necessary for development of effective strategies for bioremediation. The physico-chemistry of the control and contaminated soils
differed just significantly (P < 0.05). Whereas these factors were relatively stable over the period of investigation for the control site, a downward trend was observed for the experimental. The polluted
soil showed significant diversity in structure and number of flora .There was an initial drop in microbial population densities at the onset of pollution but, a gradual increase was observed thereafter. Higher
counts of microflora were obtained for April, May, June and July samples which coincided with the onset and peak of wet season. A rapid and significant reduction in residual oil concentration was
observed during this period. Overall, nearly 100% of the crude oil pollutant was degraded within the 28-week study period. The residual oil concentration gave a high but negative correlation coefficient (r = -
0.84 to -0.90) with total heterotrophic and hydrocarbon-utilizing populations. On application of data generated to model equations, approximately 60.5 weeks would elapse before the contaminated soil
could recover from the impact of the oil. Our results show that a natural population readily able to degrade crude oil is present in the soil chosen for this study. However, it may be necessary to monitor the level of inorganic nutrients and adjust some appropriately to enhance biodegradation of the organic pollutant.

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eISSN: 1684-5315