New perspectives on microbial dehalogenation of chlorinated solvents: insights from the field

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1998;52:423-52. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.52.1.423.


A variety of microbial dechlorination mechanisms have been demonstrated in laboratory microcosms, pure cultures, and in situ sedimentary environments. New perspectives on in situ processes from these efforts allow the design of more realistic bioremediation strategies that complement natural processes regardless of whether the strategy used is one of engineered accelerated bioremediation or natural attenuation. Since 1994 the scientific community has acquired considerable knowledge regarding natural attenuation of organochlorine compounds. Natural attenuation of chlorinated solvents has been documented at a number of field sites. Reductive dechlorination driven by co-contaminants or naturally occurring organics as substrates in combination with aerobic or co-metabolic degradation contains certain chlorinated solvent plumes. Although natural attenuation is not a panacea, at sites where it is applicable, it offers a scientifically sound, cost-effective method to remediate groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chlorine Compounds / metabolism*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Industrial Microbiology*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • Chlorine Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical