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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

A new concept for reduction of diffuse contamination by simultaneous application of pesticide and pesticide-degrading microorganisms

Önneby, Karin; Jonsson, Anders; Stenström, John


Pesticide residues and their transformation products are frequently found in groundwater and surface waters. This study examined whether adding pesticide-degrading microorganisms simultaneously with the pesticide at application could significantly reduce diffuse contamination from pesticide use. Degradation of the phenoxyacetic acid herbicides MCPA (4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) was studied in soil microcosm experiments after simultaneous spraying of herbicide and herbicide-degrading bacteria on an agricultural soil and on a sand with low degradation potential. The latter represented pesticide use on non-agricultural soils poor in microbial activity. Degradation and possible loss of herbicidal effect were also tested in a system with plants and the amounts of bacteria needed to give satisfactory MCPA-degradation rate and the survival of degrading bacteria in formulated MCPA were determined. The results showed > 80-99% degradation of 2,4-D and MCPA in soil within 1 day and > 99% within 3 days after inoculation with 10(5)-10(7) herbicide-degrading bacteria g(-1) dry weight of soil. Enhanced degradation of MCPA was also obtained in the presence of winter wheat and white mustard without loss of the intended herbicidal effect on white mustard. The survival of an isolated MCPA-degrading Sphingomonas sp. in three realistic concentrations of formulated MCPA was very poor, showing that in practical applications direct contact between the microorganisms and the pesticide formulation must be precluded. The applicability and economic feasibility of the method and the information needed to obtain a useable product for field use are discussed.


Pesticides; Diffuse pollution; Sphingomonas; Bioprophylaxis; Bioaugmentation

Published in

2010, volume: 21, number: 1, pages: 21-29
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Agricultural Science

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