Biotechnology and bioengineering

Structure analysis and performance of a microbial community from a contaminated aquifer involved in the complete reductive dechlorination of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane to ethene.

PMID 18431745


An anaerobic microcosm set up with aquifer material from a 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (TeCA) contaminated site and amended with butyrate showed a complete TeCA dechlorination to ethene. A structure analysis of the microbial community was performed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with already available and on purpose designed probes from sequences retrieved through 16S rDNA clone library construction. FISH was chosen as identification tool to evaluate in situ whether the retrieved sequences belong to primary bacteria responsible for the biodegradative reactions. FISH probes identified up to 80% of total bacteria and revealed the absence or the marginal presence of known TeCA degraders and the abundance of two well-known H(2)-utilizing halorespiring bacteria, Sulfurospirillum (32.4 +/- 8.6% of total bacteria) and Dehalococcoides spp. (14.8 +/- 2.8), thereby providing a strong indication of their involvement in the dechlorination processes. These results were supported by the kinetic and thermodynamic analysis which provided indications that hydrogen was the actual electron donor for TeCA dechlorination. The specific probes, developed in this study, for known dechlorinators (i.e., Geobacter, Dehalobacter, and Sulfurospirillum species) represent a valuable tool for any future in situ bioremediation study as well as a quick and specific investigation tool for tracking their distribution in the field.