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Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from the environment
Date:6/26/2014

created by removing the soil with the competing microbes and their respective electron acceptors (presumably present in the solid phase). Thus, the mid-stage stalling was overcome and the reaction from TCE to ethene was successful. The same outcome was also obtained by enriching microcosms with additional Dehalococcoides from a mixed microbial culture.

A further discovery of the new research is that carbonate minerals naturally present in water and soil act as electron acceptors for competing microbes like methanogens and acetogens, helping them grow and outcompete Dehalococcoides for hydrogen. This was also systematically demonstrated in Delgado's previous study. Limiting the addition of carbonates (commonly used to raise the aquifer pH) in contaminated sites should also enhance the ability of Dehalococcoides to fully reduce TCE to ethene.

Delgado and her colleagues used the knowledge gathered in these two studies to grow biodegrading cultures in continuous bioreactor experiments, demonstrating that Dehalococcoides could be grown at high density and perform reductive dechlorination at faster rates under conditions where bicarbonate was finely adjusted to optimum values, depriving competitors (paper). Currently, Delgado and Krajmalnik-Brown are contacting bioremediation companies to test these optimized Dehalococcoides-containing cultures at contaminated sites.

"One of the implications of this study that we consider important is understanding your contaminated site linking the chemistry and microbiology from the very beginning is very important," Delgado says. The stakes for human health are enormous, as effective cleanup of innumerable sites around the world contaminated with chlorinated chemicals remains a daunting societal challenge.


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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
Joseph.Caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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