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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Feb;68(2):485-95.

Molecular analysis of Dehalococcoides 16S ribosomal DNA from chloroethene-contaminated sites throughout North America and Europe.

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  • 1Corporate Center for Engineering Research, Central Research and Development, E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., Glasgow Site 300/318, Newark, DE 19714, USA.


The environmental distribution of Dehalococcoides group organisms and their association with chloroethene-contaminated sites were examined. Samples from 24 chloroethene-dechlorinating sites scattered throughout North America and Europe were tested for the presence of members of the Dehalococcoides group by using a PCR assay developed to detect Dehalococcoides 16S rRNA gene (rDNA) sequences. Sequences identified by sequence analysis as sequences of members of the Dehalococcoides group were detected at 21 sites. Full dechlorination of chloroethenes to ethene occurred at these sites. Dehalococcoides sequences were not detected in samples from three sites at which partial dechlorination of chloroethenes occurred, where dechlorination appeared to stop at 1,2-cis-dichloroethene. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rDNA amplicons confirmed that Dehalococcoides sequences formed a unique 16S rDNA group. These 16S rDNA sequences were divided into three subgroups based on specific base substitution patterns in variable regions 2 and 6 of the Dehalococcoides 16S rDNA sequence. Analyses also demonstrated that specific base substitution patterns were signature patterns. The specific base substitutions distinguished the three sequence subgroups phylogenetically. These results demonstrated that members of the Dehalococcoides group are widely distributed in nature and can be found in a variety of geological formations and in different climatic zones. Furthermore, the association of these organisms with full dechlorination of chloroethenes suggests that they are promising candidates for engineered bioremediation and may be important contributors to natural attenuation of chloroethenes.

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