Distribution of Organohalide-Respiring Bacteria Between Solid and Aqueous Phases


Natalie L. Cápiro, Yonggang Wang, Janet K. Hatt, Carmen A. Lebrón, Kurt D. Pennell, Frank E. Löffler


Contemporary microbial monitoring of aquifers relies on groundwater samples to enumerate nonattached cells of interest. One-dimensional column studies quantified the distribution of bacterial cells in solid and the aqueous phases as a function of microbial species, growth substrate availability and porous medium (i.e., Appling soil versus Federal Fine Ottawa sand with 0.75% and 0.01% [w/w] organic carbon, respectively). Without supplied growth substrates, effluent from columns inoculated with the tetrachloroethene- (PCE-) to-ethene-dechlorinating bacterial consortium BDI-SZ containing Dehalococcoides mccartyi (Dhc) strains and Geobacter lovleyi strain SZ (GeoSZ), or inoculated with Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans strain W (AdehalW), captured 94-96, 81-99, and 73-84% of the Dhc, GeoSZ, and AdehalW cells, respectively. Cell retention was organism-specific and increased in the order Dhc < GeoSZ < AdehalW. When amended with 10 mM lactate and 0.11 mM PCE, aqueous samples accounted for 1.3-27 and 0.02-22% of the total Dhc and GeoSZ biomass, respectively. In Appling soil, up to three orders-of-magnitude more cells were associated with the solid phase, and attachment rate coefficients (katt) were consistently greater compared to Federal Fine sand. Cell-solid interaction energies ranged from -2.5 to 787 kT and were consistent with organism-specific deposition behavior, where GeoSZ and AdehalW exhibited greater attachment than Dhc cells. The observed disparities in microbial cell distributions between the aqueous and solid phases imply that groundwater analysis can underestimate the total cell abundance in the aquifer by orders-of-magnitude under conditions of growth and in porous media with elevated organic carbon content. The implications of these findings for monitoring chlorinated solvent sites are discussed.

Access Full Publication


Capiro NL, Wang YG, Hatt JK, Lebron CA, Pennell KD, Loffler FE. 2014. Distribution of organohalide-respiring bacteria between solid and aqueous phases. Environmental Science & Technology 48:10878-10887.