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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1986 Oct;52(4):681-8.

Extrapolation of biodegradation results to groundwater aquifers: reductive dehalogenation of aromatic compounds.


The reductive biodegradation of a variety of haloaromatic substrates was monitored in samples from two sites within a shallow anoxic aquifer and was compared with freshwater sediment and sewage sludge. The metabolic capacity existing in methane-producing aquifer material was very similar to that in sediment in that three of four chlorobenzoates, five of seven chlorophenols, and one of two chlorophenoxyacetate herbicides were reductively dehalogenated in both types of incubations. The 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetate was first converted to a dichlorophenol before dehalogenation occurred. Sewage sludge microorganisms dehalogenated four of seven chlorophenols tested and degraded both phenoxyacetate herbicides by first converting them to the corresponding chlorophenols, but the microorganisms did not transform the chlorobenzoates. In general, the same suite of initial metabolites were produced from a test substrate in all types of samples, as confirmed by cochromatography of the intermediates with authentic material. Aquifer microbiota from a sulfate-reducing site was unable to significantly degrade any of the haloaromatic substrates tested. Biological removal of the sulfate in samples from this site permitted dehalogenation of a model substrate, while stimulation of methanogenesis without removal of sulfate did not. These results demonstrate that dehalogenating microorganisms were present at this site but that their activity was at least partially inhibited by the high sulfate levels.

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