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Can J Microbiol. 1986 Jan;32(1):38-46.

Response of the microflora in outdoor experimental streams to pentachlorophenol: environmental factors.


The 2nd year of a 2-year study of the fate of pentachlorophenol in outdoor artificial streams focused on details of microbial degradation by a combination of in situ and laboratory measurements. Replicate streams were dosed continuously at pentachlorophenol concentrations of 0, 48, and 144 micrograms/L, respectively, for an 88-d period during the summer of 1983. Pentachlorophenol was degraded both aerobically and anaerobically. Aerobic degradation was more rapid than anaerobic degradation. Mineralization of pentachlorophenol was concommitant with pentachlorophenol disappearance under aerobic conditions, but lagged behind loss of the parent molecule under anaerobic conditions. Biodegradation in the streams, or in specific stream compartments such as the sediment or water column, was characterized by an adaptation period (3-5 weeks for the stream as a whole, and reproducible from the previous year), which was inversely dependent on the concentration of pentachlorophenol and microbial biomass. The adaptation in the streams could be attributed to the time necessary for selective enrichment of an initially low population of pentachlorophenol degraders on surface compartments. The extent of biodegradation in the streams (percent loss of initial concentration of pentachlorophenol) increased with increasing pentachlorophenol input, which was explicable by an increase in the pentachlorophenol degrader population with increasing pentachlorophenol concentration. The sediment zone most significant to overall pentachlorophenol biodegradation was the top 0.5- to 1-cm layer as shown by pentachlorophenol migration rates and depth profiles of degrader density within the sediment. Pentachlorophenol profiles in sediment cores taken during and after the adaptation period for degradation showed that diffusion of pentachlorophenol into the sediment was rate limiting to degradation in this compartment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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