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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2002 Jun;5(3):246-53.

Polychlorinated biphenyl-degrading microbial communities in soils and sediments.

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  • 1Division of Microbiology, Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung (German Research Centre for Biotechnology), Mascheroder Weg 1, 38124, Braunschweig, Germany.


Recent advances in the degradation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have focussed on the use of experimental enrichment cultures to obtain PCB-degrading communities, and the use of culture-independent approaches to characterize natural and experimental PCB-degrading communities and to identify the key members in this process. PCB-degrading communities can be surprisingly diverse. Novel types of composite bacteria-mineral biofilm communities have been described. Community metabolism of PCBs may lead to the formation of protoanemonin, a dead-end product in some instances but, in others, a seemingly productive intermediate. Analysis of isotope fractionation and preferred enantiomer degradation has provided new information on degradation of PCBs in anaerobic settings. The first defined community capable of dehalorespiration of PCBs has been described, and important community members identified. Here, we provide an overview of the current knowledge of aerobic and anaerobic degradation of PCBs in microbial consortia and in the environment, including novel approaches to determine in situ PCB degradation.

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