Effect of surfactants on solubilization and degradation of phenanthrene under thermophilic conditions

Jonathan W C WONG*, Min Fang, Zhenyong Zhao, Baoshan Xing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


The bioavailability and biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can he increased through the addition of surfactants. Previous studies of this nature have been conducted under mesophilic conditions. Hence, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of synthetic surfactants and biosurfactants on solubilization and degradation of phenanthrene (PHE) in a series of batch solution experiments under thermophilic conditions. Tween 80, Triton X-100, and biosurfactants produced from Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain P-CG3 (P-CG3) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027 (P. 9027) were used in this study. Surfactants effectively enhanced the solubility of PHE at 50°C and the biosurfactant from P-CG3 was most effective with a 28-fold increase in apparent solubility of PHE at a concentration of 10 X critical micelle concentration (CMC) compared with the controls. However, addition of synthetic surfactants or biosurfactants inhibited the biodegradation of PHE in mineral salts medium by an isolate Bacillus sp. B-UM. Degradation of PHE diminished with increasing surfactant concentrations, and PHE degradation was completely inhibited for all the surfactants tested when the concentrations were greater than their respective CMC. The growth test suggested that Tween 80 and biosurfactants were degradahle, but preferential utilization of these surfactants as substrates was not the mechanism for explaining the inhibition of PHE biodegradation. Because of the hydrophobic property of B-UM, degradation inhibition of PHE by surfactants was probably due to the reduction of direct contact between bacterial cells and PHE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2015-2025
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of surfactants on solubilization and degradation of phenanthrene under thermophilic conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this