Multisubstrate biodegradation kinetics of naphthalene, phenanthrene, and pyrene mixtures

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Biodegradation kinetics of naphthalene, phenanthrene and pyrene were studied in sole-substrate systems, and in binary and ternary mixtures to examine substrate interactions. The experiments were conducted in aerobic batch aqueous systems inoculated with a mixed culture that had been isolated from soils contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Monod kinetic parameters and yield coefficients for the individual compounds were estimated from substrate depletion and CO2 evolution rate data in sole- substrate experiments. In all three binary mixture experiments, biodegradation kinetics were comparable to the sole-substrate kinetics. In the ternary mixture, biodegradation of naphthalene was inhibited and the biodegradation rates of phenanthrene and pyrene were enhanced. A multisubstrate form of the Monod kinetic model was found to adequately predict substrate interactions in the binary and ternary mixtures using only the parameters derived from sole-substrate experiments. Numerical simulations of biomass growth kinetics explain the observed range of behaviors in PAH mixtures. In general, the biodegradation rates of the more degradable and abundant compounds are reduced due to competitive inhibition, but enhanced biodegradation of the more recalcitrant PAHs occurs due to simultaneous biomass growth on multiple substrates. In PAH-contaminated environments, substrate interactions may be very large due to additive effects from the large number of compounds present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 5 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


  • Biodegradation kinetics
  • Competitive inhibition
  • Monod kinetics
  • Multisubstrate
  • Naphthalene
  • PAH
  • Phenanthrene
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • Pyrene


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