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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2004 Jun;64(5):702-11. Epub 2004 Feb 5.

Quinone-respiration improves dechlorination of carbon tetrachloride by anaerobic sludge.

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  • 1Sub-department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.


The impact of humic acids and the humic model compound, anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), on the biodegradation of carbon tetrachloride (CT) by anaerobic granular sludge was studied. Addition of both humic acids and AQDS at sub-stoichiometric levels increased the first-order rate of conversion of CT up to 6-fold, leading to an increased production of inorganic chloride, which accounted for 40-50% of the CT initially added. Considerably less dechlorination occurred in sludge incubations lacking humic substances. By comparison, very limited dechlorination occurred in sterile controls with autoclaved sludge. Accumulation of chloroform (1-10%) and dichloromethane (traces) also accounted for the CT converted. The accumulation of a chlorinated ethene, perchloroethylene (up to 9% of added CT), is also reported for the first time as an end-product of CT degradation. A humus-respiring enrichment culture (composed primarily of a Geobacter sp.) derived from the granular sludge also dechlorinated CT, yielding products similar to the AQDS-supplemented granular sludge consortium. The dechlorination of CT by the Geobacter enrichment was dependent on the presence of AQDS or humic acids, which were reduced during the assays. The reduced form of AQDS, anthrahydroquinone-2,6-disulfonate, was shown to cause the chemical reduction of CT when incubated in sterile medium. The results taken as a whole indicate that the formation of reduced humic substances by quinone-respiring microorganisms can contribute to the reductive dechlorination of CT.

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