Journal of microbiology and biotechnology

Reductive dechlorination of low concentration polychlorinated biphenyls as affected by a rhamnolipid biosurfactant.

PMID 18852513


We investigated whether the threshold concentration for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) dechlorination may be lower in biosurfactant-amended sediments compared with biosurfactant-free samples. At PCB concentrations of 40, 60, and 120 ppm, the surfactant amendment enhanced the PCB dechlorination rate at all concentrations and the rate was also faster at higher concentrations. On a congener group basis, dechlorination proceeded largely with group A (congeners with low threshold) in both surfactant-free and -amended sediments, accumulating mainly group C (residual products of dechlorination) congeners, and surfactant enhanced the dechlorination rate of group A congeners. Since the PCB threshold concentration for the inoculum in the experiment was lower than 40 ppm, we carried out another experiment using sediments with lower PCB concentrations, 10, 20, and 30 ppm. Sediments with 100 ppm were also performed to measure dechlorination at a PCB saturation concentration. Comparison between the plateaus exhibited that the extent of dechlorination below 40 ppm PCBs was much lower than that at a saturation concentration of 100 ppm. There was no significant difference in the extent of dechlorination between surfactant-free and -amended sediments. Moreover, surfactant did not change the congener specificity or broaden the congener spectrum for dechlorination at PCB concentrations below 40 ppm. Taken together, it seems that at a given PCB concentration, dechlorination characteristics of dechlorinating populations may be determined by not only the congener specificity of the microorganisms but also the affinity of dechlorinating enzyme(s) to individual PCB congeners.