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Water Sci Technol. 2001;44(8):49-56.

The potential of anaerobic bacteria to degrade chlorinated compounds.

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  • 1TNO Energy, Environment and Process Innovation, Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands


Chlorinated ethenes and chlorinated aromatics are often found as pollutants in sediments, groundwater, and wastewater. These compounds were long considered to be recalcitrant under anaerobic conditions. In the past years however, dechlorination of these compounds has been found to occur under anaerobic conditions at contaminated sites and in wastewater treatment systems. This dechlorination is mainly attributed to halo-respiring bacteria, which are able to couple this dechlorination to energy conservation via electron transport coupled phosphorylation. The dechlorinating activities of the halo-respiring bacteria seem to be confined to the dechlorination of chloroethenes and chlorinated aromatic compounds. In addition, methanogenic and acetogenic bacteria are also able to reduce the chlorinated ethenes via a-specific cometabolic pathways. Although these latter reactions may not be important in the remediation of contaminated sites, they may be of substantial influence in the start-up of remediation processes and in the application of granular sludge from UASB reactors. Specific halo-respiring bacteria may be used to increase the dechlorination activities via bioaugmentation in the case that the appropriate microorganisms are not present at the contaminated site or in the sludge.

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