Development and Characterization of PCE-to-ethene Dechlorinating Microcosms with Contaminated River Sediment


Jaejin Lee, Tae Kwon Lee


An industrial complex in Wonju, contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE), was one of the most problematic sites in Korea. Despite repeated remedial trials for decades, chlorinated ethenes remained as sources of down-gradient groundwater contamination. Recent efforts were being made to remove the contaminants of the area, but knowledge of the indigenous microbial communities and their dechlorination abilities were unknown. Thus, the objectives of the present study were (i) to evaluate the dechlorination abilities of indigenous microbes at the contaminated site, (ii) to characterize which microbes and reductive dehalogenase genes were responsible for the dechlorination reactions, and (iii) to develop a PCE-to-ethene dechlorinating microbial consortium. An enrichment culture that dechlorinates PCE to ethene was obtained from Wonju stream, nearby a trichloroethene (TCE)-contaminated industrial complex. The community profiling revealed that known organohalide-respiring microbes, such as Geobacter, Desulfuromonas, and Dehalococcoides grew during the incubation with chlorinated ethenes. Although Chloroflexi populations (i.e., Longilinea and Bellilinea) were the most enriched in the sediment microcosms, those were not found in the transfer cultures. Based upon the results from pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons and qPCR using TaqMan chemistry, close relatives of Dehalococcoides mccartyi strains FL2 and GT seemed to be dominant and responsible for the complete detoxification of chlorinated ethenes in the transfer cultures. This study also demonstrated that the contaminated site harbors indigenous microbes that can convert PCE to ethene, and the developed consortium can be an important resource for future bioremediation efforts.

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Lee J, Lee TK. 2016. Development and characterization of PCE-to-ethene dechlorinating microcosms with contaminated river sediment. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 26:120-129.