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ISME J. 2009 Jan;3(1):47-64. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2008.77. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Bacterial community succession during in situ uranium bioremediation: spatial similarities along controlled flow paths.

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Department of Microbiology, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA.

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  • ISME J. 2009 Jan;3(1):137.


Bacterial community succession was investigated in a field-scale subsurface reactor formed by a series of wells that received weekly ethanol additions to re-circulating groundwater. Ethanol additions stimulated denitrification, metal reduction, sulfate reduction and U(VI) reduction to sparingly soluble U(IV). Clone libraries of SSU rRNA gene sequences from groundwater samples enabled tracking of spatial and temporal changes over a 1.5-year period. Analyses showed that the communities changed in a manner consistent with geochemical variations that occurred along temporal and spatial scales. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed that the levels of nitrate, uranium, sulfide, sulfate and ethanol were strongly correlated with particular bacterial populations. As sulfate and U(VI) levels declined, sequences representative of sulfate reducers and metal reducers were detected at high levels. Ultimately, sequences associated with sulfate-reducing populations predominated, and sulfate levels declined as U(VI) remained at low levels. When engineering controls were compared with the population variation through canonical ordination, changes could be related to dissolved oxygen control and ethanol addition. The data also indicated that the indigenous populations responded differently to stimulation for bioreduction; however, the two biostimulated communities became more similar after different transitions in an idiosyncratic manner. The strong associations between particular environmental variables and certain populations provide insight into the establishment of practical and successful remediation strategies in radionuclide-contaminated environments with respect to engineering controls and microbial ecology.

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