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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 May 1;43(9):3169-75.

Biodegradation of haloacetic acids by bacterial isolates and enrichment cultures from drinking water systems.

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  • 1Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, 6120 Biomedical and Physical Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


Biodegradation is a potentially important loss process for haloacetic acids (HAAs), a class of chlorination byproducts, in water treatment and distribution systems, but little is known about the organisms involved (i.e., identity, substrate range, biodegradation kinetics). In this research, 10 biomass samples (i.e., tap water, distribution system biofilms, and prechlorinated granular activated carbon filters) from nine drinking water systems were used to inoculate a total of thirty enrichment cultures fed monochloroacetic acid (MCAA), dichloroacetic acid (DCAA), or trichloroacetic (TCAA) as sole carbon and energy source. HAA degraders were successfully enriched from the biofilm samples (GAC and distribution system) but rarely from tap water. Half of the MCAA and DCAA enrichment cultures were positive, whereas only one TCAA culture was positive (two were inconclusive). Eight unique HAA-degrading isolates were obtained including several Afipia spp. and a Methylobacterium sp.; all isolates were members of the phylum Proteobacteria. MCAA, monobromoacetic acid (MBAA), and monoiodoacetic acid (MIAA) were rapidly degraded by all isolates, and DCAA and tribromoacetic (TBAA) were also relatively labile. TCAA and dibromoacetic acid (DBAA)were degraded by only three isolates and degradation lagged behind the other HAAs. Detailed DCAA biodegradation kinetics were obtained for two selected isolates and two enrichment cultures. The maximum biomass-normalized degradation rates (Vm) were 0.27 and 0.97 microg DCAA/ microg protein/h for Methylobacterium fujisawaense strain PAWDI and Afipia felis strain EMD2, respectively, which were comparable to the values obtained for the enrichment cultures from which those organisms were isolated (0.39 and 1.37 microg DCAN/microg protein/h, respectively). The half-saturation constant (Km) values ranged from 4.38 to 77.91 microg DCAA/L and the cell yields ranged from 14.4 to 36.1 mg protein/g DCAA.

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