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Environmental microbiology

Chloroform respiration to dichloromethane by a Dehalobacter population.


PMID 20089043

Abstract

Chloroform (CF), or trichloromethane, is an ubiquitous environmental pollutant because of its widespread industrial use, historically poor disposal and recalcitrance to biodegradation. Chloroform is a potent inhibitor of metabolism and no known organism uses it as a growth substrate. We discovered that CF was rapidly and sustainably dechlorinated in the course of investigating anaerobic reductive dechlorination of 1,1,1-trichloroethane in a Dehalobacter-containing culture. Like 1,1,1-trichloroethane dechlorination in this culture, CF dechlorination was a growth-linked respiratory process, requiring H(2) as an electron donor and CF as an electron acceptor. Moreover, the same specific reductive dehalogenase likely catalyzed both reactions. This Dehalobacter population appears specialized for substrates with three halogen substituents on the same carbon atom, with widespread implications for bioremediation.