Microbial ecology of chlorinated solvent biodegradation

Environ Microbiol. 2015 Dec;17(12):4835-50. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12413. Epub 2014 Mar 17.


This study focused on the microbial ecology of tetrachloroethene (PCE) degradation to trichloroethene, cis-1,2-dichloroethene and vinyl chloride to evaluate the relationship between the microbial community and the potential accumulation or degradation of these toxic metabolites. Multiple soil microcosms supplied with different organic substrates were artificially contaminated with PCE. A thymidine analogue, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), was added to the microcosms and incorporated into the DNA of actively replicating cells. We compared the total and active bacterial communities during the 50-day incubations by using phylogenic microarrays and 454 pyrosequencing to identify microorganisms and functional genes associated with PCE degradation to ethene. By use of this integrative approach, both the key community members and the ecological functions concomitant with complete PCE degradation could be determined, including the presence and activity of microbial community members responsible for producing hydrogen and acetate, which are critical for Dehalococcoides-mediated PCE degradation. In addition, by correlation of chemical data and phylogenic microarray data, we identified several bacteria that could potentially oxidize hydrogen. These results demonstrate that PCE degradation is dependent on some microbial community members for production of appropriate metabolites, while other members of the community compete for hydrogen in soil at low redox potentials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental*
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Chloroflexi / genetics
  • Chloroflexi / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Dichloroethylenes / metabolism
  • Ethylenes / biosynthesis
  • Halogenation
  • Microbiota / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Solvents / metabolism*
  • Tetrachloroethylene / metabolism*
  • Trichloroethylene / metabolism
  • Vinyl Chloride / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Dichloroethylenes
  • Ethylenes
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Solvents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Trichloroethylene
  • ethylene
  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Vinyl Chloride
  • 1,2-dichloroethylene