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Environ Pollut. 2008 Sep;155(1):1-12. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Microbial transformation and degradation of polychlorinated biphenyls.

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Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, PO Box 210011, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


This paper reviews the potential of microorganisms to transform polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In anaerobic environments, higher chlorinated biphenyls can undergo reductive dehalogenation. Meta- and para-chlorines in PCB congeners are more susceptible to dechlorination than ortho-chlorines. Anaerobes catalyzing PCB dechlorination have not been isolated in pure culture but there is strong evidence from enrichment cultures that some Dehalococcoides spp. and other microorganisms within the Chloroflexi phylum can grow by linking the oxidation of H(2) to the reductive dechlorination of PCBs. Lower chlorinated biphenyls can be co-metabolized aerobically. Some aerobes can also grow by utilizing PCB congeners containing only one or two chlorines as sole carbon/energy source. An example is the growth of Burkholderia cepacia by transformation of 4-chlorobiphenyl to chlorobenzoates. The latter compounds are susceptible to aerobic mineralization. Higher chlorinated biphenyls therefore are potentially fully biodegradable in a sequence of reductive dechlorination followed by aerobic mineralization of the lower chlorinated products.

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