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Ecotoxicology. 2014 Apr;23(3):404-18. doi: 10.1007/s10646-014-1205-y. Epub 2014 Feb 16.

Survival of prokaryotes in a polluted waste dump during remediation by alkaline hydrolysis.

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  • 1Department of Bioscience, Microbiology, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 116, Building 1540, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark, marie.b.nielsen@biology.au.dk.

Abstract

A combination of culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques was used to characterize bacterial and archaeal communities in a highly polluted waste dump and to assess the effect of remediation by alkaline hydrolysis on these communities. This waste dump (Breakwater 42), located in Denmark, contains approximately 100 different toxic compounds including large amounts of organophosphorous pesticides such as parathions. The alkaline hydrolysis (12 months at pH >12) decimated bacterial and archaeal abundances, as estimated by 16S rRNA gene-based qPCR, from 2.1 × 10(4) and 2.9 × 10(3) gene copies per gram wet soil respectively to below the detection limit of the qPCR assay. Clone libraries constructed from PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments showed a significant reduction in bacterial diversity as a result of the alkaline hydrolysis, with preferential survival of Betaproteobacteria, which increased in relative abundance from 0 to 48 %. Many of the bacterial clone sequences and the 27 isolates were related to known xenobiotic degraders. An archaeal clone library from a non-hydrolyzed sample showed the presence of three main clusters, two representing methanogens and one representing marine aerobic ammonia oxidizers. Isolation of alkalitolerant bacterial pure cultures from the hydrolyzed soil confirmed that although alkaline hydrolysis severely reduces microbial community diversity and size certain bacteria survive a prolonged alkaline hydrolysis process. Some of the isolates from the hydrolyzed soil were capable of growing at high pH (pH 10.0) in synthetic media indicating that they could become active in in situ biodegradation upon hydrolysis.

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