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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Apr;73(8):2513-21. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

The Dehalococcoides population in sediment-free mixed cultures metabolically dechlorinates the commercial polychlorinated biphenyl mixture aroclor 1260.

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Department of Biology, SC 1W14, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA.


Microbial reductive dechlorination of commercial polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixtures (e.g., Aroclors) in aquatic sediments is crucial to achieve detoxification. Despite extensive efforts over nearly two decades, the microorganisms responsible for Aroclor dechlorination remained elusive. Here we demonstrate that anaerobic bacteria of the Dehalococcoides group derived from sediment of the Housatonic River (Lenox, MA) simultaneously dechlorinate 64 PCB congeners carrying four to nine chlorines in Aroclor 1260 in the sediment-free JN cultures. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that the Dehalococcoides cell titer in JN cultures amended with acetate and hydrogen increased from 7.07 x 10(6) +/- 0.42 x 10(6) to 1.67 x 10(8) +/- 0.04 x 10(8) cells/ml, concomitant with a 64.2% decrease of the PCBs with six or more chlorines in Aroclor 1260. No Dehalococcoides growth occurred in parallel cultures without PCBs. Aroclor 1260 dechlorination supported the growth of 9.25 x 10(8) +/- 0.04 x 10(8) Dehalococcoides cells per mumol of chlorine removed. 16S rRNA gene-targeted PCR analysis of known dechlorinators (i.e., Desulfitobacterium, Dehalobacter, Desulfuromonas, Sulfurospirillum, Anaeromyxobacter, Geobacter, and o-17/DF-1-type Chloroflexi organisms) ruled out any involvement of these bacterial groups in the dechlorination. Our results suggest that the Dehalococcoides population present in the JN cultures also catalyzes in situ dechlorination of Aroclor 1260 in the Housatonic River. The identification of Dehalococcoides organisms as catalysts of extensive Aroclor 1260 dechlorination and our ability to propagate the JN cultures under defined conditions offer opportunities to study the organisms' ecophysiology, elucidate nutritional requirements, identify reductive dehalogenase genes involved in PCB dechlorination, and design molecular tools required for bioremediation applications.

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