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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Mar;58(3):794-800.

Anaerobic degradation of toluene and xylene by aquifer microorganisms under sulfate-reducing conditions.

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Department of Civil Engineering, Stanford University, California 94305-4020.


Toluene and the three isomers of xylene were completely mineralized to CO2 and biomass by aquifer-derived microorganisms under strictly anaerobic conditions. The source of the inoculum was gasoline-contaminated sediment from Seal Beach, Calif. Evidence confirming that sulfate was the terminal electron acceptor is presented. Benzene and ethylbenzene were not degraded under the experimental conditions used. Successive transfers of the mixed cultures that were enriched from aquifer sediments retained the ability to degrade toluene and xylenes. Greater than 90% of 14C-labeled toluene or 14C-labeled o-xylene was mineralized to 14CO2. The doubling time for the culture grown on toluene or m-xylene was about 20 days, and the cell yield was about 0.1 to 0.14 g of cells (dry weight) per g of substrate. The accumulation of sulfide in the cultures as a result of sulfate reduction appeared to inhibit degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons.

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