Development of a bioengineered soil medium for remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soils

Bioremediation is the use of biological agents including plants, fungi, and algae to remove or neutralize contamination in soil and water. The goal of this 3-year study is to determine the feasibility of using a system with mushrooms, willow plants and compost to remove hydrocarbon contaminants like gasoline and diesel fuel from Yukon soils.

Project Overview

Some mushrooms have the ability to break down hydrocarbon chains and use them as food; similar to how our bodies break down carbohydrates and sugars.  Willow’s have the ability to cycle water in the soil and provide a sustainable environment within its rhizosphere (root zone) for beneficial microorganisms.  They also provide shade to help retain moisture within the soil.  Compost is rich in nutrients and can contribute beneficial microorganisms and improve soil structure.  The goal was to create a system that has multiple biological elements working together, like a small ecosystem.  Other contaminants of interest were monitored, which included heavy metals and chlorinated compounds.

The mycelium used in this study was able to breakdown certain grades of diesel and the lead researcher will be using this project for a PhD thesis where she will do further testing and sampling on this bioremediation project.

  • Researcher, Kawina Robichaud, University of Montreal
  • Innovation Project Officer, Cold Climate Innovation, Yukon Research Centre
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Economic Development, Government of Yukon