Chemotaxis in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria isolated from coal-tar- and oil-polluted rhizospheres


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The limited mass transfer in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-contaminated soils during bioremediation treatments often impedes the achievement of regulatory decontamination end-points. Little is known about bioavailability of these hydrophobic pollutants in phytoremediation systems. This work attempts to evaluate, for the first time, chemotaxis as a bioavailability-promoting trait in PAH-degrading bacteria from the rhizosphere. For this aim, 20 motile strains capable of degrading different PAHs were isolated from rhizosphere soils contaminated with coal tar and oil. Three representative Pseudomonas strains were selected, on the basis of their faster growth and/or range of PAHs degraded, for detailed chemotaxis studies with PAHs (naphthalene, phenanthrene, anthracene, and pyrene), bacterial lipopolysaccharide and root exudates from seven different plants. The chemotactic response was quantified with a new densitometric method. The results indicate that chemotaxis is a relevant mobilizing factor for PAH-degrading rhizosphere bacteria.