Response of soil microbial biomass to 1,2-dichlorobenzene addition in the presence of plant residues

Andrew A. Meharg*, Clare L. Wyatt, Ian P. Thompson, Mark J. Bailey, Richard J. Ellis, Nicola Maguire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of 1,2-dichlorobenzene on soil microbial biomass in the presence and absence of fresh plant residues (roots) was investigated by assaying total vital bacterial counts, vital fungel hyphal length, total culturable bacterial counts, and culturable fluorescent pseudomonads. Diversity of the fluorescent pseudomonads was investigated using fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) characterization in conjunction with metabolic profiling of the sampled culturable community (Biolog). Mineralization of [14C]1,2- dichlorobenzene was also assayed. Addition of fresh roots stimulated 1,2- dichlorobenzene mineralization by over 100%, with nearly 20% of the label mineralized in root-amended treatments by the termination of the experiment. Presence of roots also buffered any impacts of 1,2-dichlorobenzene on microbial numbers. In the absence of roots, 1,2-dichlorobenzene greatly stimulated total culturable bacteria and culturable pseudomonads in a concentration-dependent manner. 1,2-Dichlorobenzene, up to concentrations of 50 μg/g soil dry weight had little or no deleterious effects on microbial counts. The phenotypic diversity of the fluorescent pseudomonad population was unaffected by the treatments, even though fluorescent pseudomonad numbers were greatly stimulated by both roots and 1,2-dichlorobenzene. The presence of roots had no detectable impact on the bacterial community composition. No phenotypic shifts in the natural population were required to benefit from the presence of roots and 1,2-dichlorobenzene. The metabolic capacity of the culturable bacterial community was altered in the presence of roots but not in the presence of 1,2-dichlorobenzene. It is argued that the increased microbial biomass and shifts in metabolic capacity of the microbial biomass are responsible for enhanced degradation of 1,2-dichlorobenzene in the presence of decaying plant roots.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1462-1468
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental toxicology and chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Dichlorobenzene
  • Pollutant degradation
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Soil microbial biomass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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