Reductive dechlorination of cis-1,2-dichloroethene and vinyl chloride by "Dehalococcoides ethenogenes"

Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Feb 1;35(3):516-21. doi: 10.1021/es001285i.


cis-Dichloroethene (DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) often accumulate in contaminated aquifers in which tetrachloroethene (PCE) or trichloroethene (TCE) undergo reductive dechlorination. "Dehalococcoides ethenogenes" strain 195 is the first isolate capable of dechlorinating chloroethenes past cis-DCE. Strain 195 could utilize commercially synthesized cis-DCE as an electron acceptor, but doses greater than 0.2 mmol/L were inhibitory, especially to PCE utilization. To test whether the cis-DCE itself was toxic, or whether the toxicity was due to impurities in the commercial preparation (97% nominal purity), we produced cis-DCE biologically from PCE using a Desulfitobacterium sp. culture. The biogenic cis-DCE was readily utilized at high concentrations by strain 195 indicating that cis-DCE was not intrinsically inhibitory. Analysis of the commercially synthesized cis-DCE by GC/mass spectrometry indicated the presence of approximately 0.4% mol/mol chloroform. Chloroform was found to be inhibitory to chloroethene utilization by strain 195 and at least partially accounts for the inhibitory activity of the synthetic cis-DCE. VC, a human carcinogen that accumulates to a large extent in cultures of strain 195, was not utilized as a growth substrate, and cultures inoculated into medium with VC required a growth substrate, such as PCE, for substantial VC dechlorination. However, high concentrations of PCE or TCE inhibited VC dechlorination. Use of a hexadecane phase to keep the aqueous PCE concentration low in cultures allowed simultaneous utilization of PCE and VC. At contaminated sites in which "D. ethenogenes" or similar organisms are present, biogenic cis-DCE should be readily dechlorinated, chloroform as a co-contaminant may be inhibitory, and concentrations of PCE and TCE, except perhaps those near the source zone, should allow substantial VC dechlorination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / physiology*
  • Chlorine Compounds / chemistry
  • Chloroform / chemistry
  • Ethylene Dichlorides / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Vinyl Chloride / metabolism*


  • Chlorine Compounds
  • Ethylene Dichlorides
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Chloroform
  • Vinyl Chloride