Citrate and malonate increase microbial activity and alter microbial community composition in uncontaminated and diesel-contaminated soil microcosms

Petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) are among the most prevalent sources of environmental contamination. It has been hypothesized that plant root exudation of low molecular weight organic acid anions (carboxylates) may aid degradation of PHCs by stimulating heterotrophic microbial activity. To test their potential implication for bioremediation, we applied two commonly exuded carboxylates (citrate and malonate) to uncontaminated and diesel-contaminated microcosms (10 000 mg kg−1; aged 40 days) and determined their impact on the microbial community and PHC degradation. Every 48 h for 18 days, soil received 5 µmol g−1 of (i) citrate, (ii) malonate, (iii) citrate + malonate or (iv) water.

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