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Direct Evaluation of in Situ Biodegradation in Athabasca Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Using Natural Abundance Radiocarbon.

Ahad, Jason M. E.; Pakdel, Hooshang (2013). Direct Evaluation of in Situ Biodegradation in Athabasca Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Using Natural Abundance Radiocarbon. Environmental Science and Technology , vol. 47 , nº 18. p. 10214-10222. DOI: 10.1021/es402302z.

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Résumé

Compound-specific stable (δ13C) and radiocarbon (Δ14C) isotopes of phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) were used to evaluate carbon sources utilized by the active microbial populations in surface sediments from Athabasca oil sands tailings ponds. Algal-specific PLFAs were absent at three of the four sites investigated, and δ13CPLFA values were generally within ∼3‰ of that reported for oil sands bitumen (∼−30‰), suggesting that the microbial communities growing on petroleum constituents were dominated by aerobic heterotrophs. Δ14CPLFA values ranged from −906 to −586‰ and pointed to significant uptake of fossil carbon, particularly in PLFAs (e.g., cy17:0 and cy19:0) often associated with petroleum hydrocarbon degrading bacteria. The comparatively heavier Δ14C values found in other, less specific PLFAs (e.g., 16:0) indicated the preferential uptake of younger organic matter by the general microbial population. Since the main carbon pools in tailings sediment were essentially “radiocarbon dead” (i.e., Δ14C ∼ −1000‰), the principal source for this relatively modern carbon is considered to be the Athabasca River, which provides the bulk of the water used in the bitumen extraction process. The preferential utilization of the minor amount of younger and presumably more labile material present in systems otherwise dominated by petroleum carbon has important implications for remediation strategies, since it implies that organic contaminants may persist long after reclamation has begun. Alternatively, this young organic matter could play a vital and necessary role in supporting the microbial utilization of fossil carbon via cometabolism or priming processes.

Type de document: Article
Mots-clés libres: Athabasca oil sands; microbial communities; microbial populations; organic contaminant; petroleum hydrocarbons; phospholipid fatty acids; remediation strategies; situ biodegradations
Centre: Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Date de dépôt: 09 avr. 2018 20:44
Dernière modification: 09 avr. 2018 20:44
URI: http://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/4144

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