Nutrient enhanced biodegradation of crude oil in tropical salt marshes

Won Sik Shin, John H. Pardue, W. Andrew Jackson, Sang June Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Tropical salt marshes in Louisiana are at risks of accidental oil spills and remediation of these ecosystems is mainly limited to natural biodegradation due to physical sensitivity of the ecosystems. This study investigated both intrinsic and nutrient enhanced rates of crude oil degradation in core studies. In addition, loading rates of nitrogen and optimal porewater nitrogen concentrations were determined. Nitrogen additions increased biodegradation rates of some alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Addition of NH4+-N increased zero-order mineralization constants of labeled hexadecane and phenanthrene up to 15.4-19.2% (Fourchon marsh) and 56.2% (Ugly Shack Bayou marsh) and rates of total carbon dioxide production up to 14.0-33.1% (Fourchon marsh) and 3.0% (Ugly Shack Bayou marsh), respectively. Efficient biodegradation of crude oil was achieved when NH4+ was applied at the loading rate of 28.3-56.6 g N m-2 producing porewater concentration at the level of 80-450 mg NH4+-N L-1. No significant lag time was observed indicating that nitrogen application directly stimulates biodegradation of crude oil in tropical salt marshes in Louisiana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-152
Number of pages18
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biodegradation
  • Crude oil
  • Nitrogen
  • Nutrient
  • Oil spill
  • Salt marsh


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