Enchytraeid worms retard polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation in a coniferous forest soil

Louise A. Uffindell, Phil Ineson, Andy A. Meharg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this study the fate of naphthalene, fluorene and pyrene were investigated in the presence and absence of enchytraeid worms. Microcosms were used, which enabled the full fate of 14C-labelled PAHs to be followed. Between 60 and 70% of naphthalene was either mineralised or volatilised, whereas over 90% of the fluorene and pyrene was retained within the soil. Mineralisation and volatilisation of naphthalene was lower in the presence of enchytraeid worms. The hypothesis that microbial mineralisation of naphthalene was limited by enchytraeids because they reduce nutrient availability, and hence limit microbial carbon turnover in these nutrient poor soils, was tested. Ammonia concentrations increased and phosphorus concentrations decreased in all microcosms over the 56 d experimental period. The soil nutrient chemistry was only altered slightly by enchytraeid worms, and did not appear to be the cause of retardation of naphthalene mineralisation. The results suggest that microbial availability and volatilisation of naphthalene is altered as it passes through enchytraeid worms due to organic material encapsulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • C
  • Enchytraeid
  • Fluorene
  • Naphthalene
  • Pyrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology


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