Project Director

Richards, Sean

Department Examiner

Kutz, Doug; Spratt, Henry; Craddock, Hill


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


As a result of uncontrolled dumping of coal-tar for much of the past century,polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are abundant in the floodplain of Chattanooga Creek. The area is deemed a Superfund site and a danger to public health. Phytoremediation has shown to be a cost-effective, ecologically friendly method to r move toxicants from the environment. The present study concerns two candidate plants for phytoremediation Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue) and Cucurbita pepo ssp. pepo (zucchini). Each plant was grown for 28 days in pyrene (a representative PAH) amended soi l. Shoot heights were recorded every 3 to 4 days to test plants for sensitivity to P AHs. Results indicate that both species were not affected by the low concentrations of pyrene in the soil. Each plant was also grown in window boxes with pyrene amended (treated) soil and untreated soil to test for the plants ability to reduce pyrene in the soil. The right side of each box was the unplanted control, to test for degradation of pyrene due to soil-borne factors . Multiple soil samples were taken from each window box before planting and then after 24 days for F. arundinacea and 56 days for C. pepo. Pyrene was then extracted from the soil samples and analyzed via reverse-phase HPLC. Results indicated that F arundinacea and C. pepo did not significantly contribute to a reduction of pyrene in the soil. Preexisting microorganisms are thought to be responsible for the degradation of pyrene. Longer studies should be conducted to allow for F. arundhwcea and C. pepo to influence remediation and to conclusively determine the feasibility of phytoremediating the floodplains of the Chattanooga Creek.


I would like to thank: the late Dr. Stephen Halperin for his wonderful visions of phytoremediating the :floodplains of the Chattanooga Creek and his guidance in the laboratory. Dr. Sean Richards for all the time he dedicated as project director, his insightful input on the project and, of course his numerous revisions. Dr. Doug Kutz, Dr. Henry Spratt, and Dr. Hill Craddock for being on my Departmental Honors Committee, their time and contributions to the project. Dr. Steven Symes for his assistance and knowledge of the HPLC. David Percy and Joe Simpson for their invaluable assistance in the laboratory and greenhouse. Nicholas Fiacco for his assistance in preparing the literature cited. The UHON faculty for their advice and guidance. The UTC Biology Department for the use of their laboratories, greenhouse and for funding this project.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Phytoremediation; Environmental toxicology--Chattanooga Creek (Tenn. and Ga.)


Plant Biology

Document Type



iii, 43 leaves





Call Number

LB2369.5 .C633 2007


Included in

Plant Biology Commons