Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013NJ345B

Biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,001

Principal Investigators: Sarah Wolfson, Lily Young

Abstract: The Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor (BB-LEH) estuary is an important coastal system that is vulnerable to contaminant accumulation. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from atmospheric deposition, creosote treated lumber, and extensive boating in the estuary may enrich the local area, selecting for microbial communities specialized in the biodegradation of PAHs. Species abundance and diversity in these areas are expected to differ from those in unimpacted locations. Microbial mineralization of PAHs would decrease the concentration of toxic PAHs in the sediment, prevent biomagnification, and mitigate environmental impacts. Identifying and isolating these microbes can reveal novel biomarkers integral to PAH bioremediation both in the estuary and other polluted environments. This would result in a cleaner estuarine ecosystem, safer habitat for seafood cultivation, and more pristine bay for recreation.