Biodegradation kinetics testing of two hydrophobic UVCBs - potential for substrate toxicity supports testing at low concentrations

Rikke Høst Hammershøj, Karina Knudsmark Sjøholm, Heidi Birch, Kristian Koefoed Brandt, Philipp Mayer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The biodegradation kinetics of UVCB substances (unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products or biological materials) should be determined below the solubility limit to avoid experimental artefacts by the non-dissolved mixture. Recently, we reported delayed biodegradation kinetics of single petroleum hydrocarbons even at concentrations just below the solubility limit and attributed this to toxicity. The present study aimed to determine the concentration effect on biodegradation kinetics for constituents in two UVCBs, using surface water from a rural stream as the inoculum. Parallel biodegradation tests of diesel and lavender oil were conducted at concentrations just below the solubility limit and two orders of magnitude lower. The biodegradation kinetics of diesel oil constituents were generally similar at the two concentrations, which coincided with the stimulation of bacterial productivity (growth) at both concentrations, determined by [3H]leucine incorporation. By contrast, the biodegradation of lavender oil constituents was significantly delayed or even halted at the high test concentration. This was consistent with lavender oil stimulating bacterial growth at low concentration but inhibiting it at high concentration. The delayed biodegradation kinetics of lavender oil constituents at high concentration was best explained by mixture toxicity near the solubility limit. Consequently, biodegradation testing of hydrophobic UVCBs should be conducted at low, environmentally relevant concentrations ensuring that mixture toxicity does not affect the biodegradation kinetics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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