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Metabolic adaptation and in situ attenuation of chlorinated ethenes by naturally occurring microorganisms in a fractured dolomite aquifer near Niagara Falls, New York

Environmental Science and Technology

By:
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DOI: 10.1021/es970105a

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Abstract

A combination of hydrogeological, geochemical, and microbiological methods was used to document the biotransformation of trichloroethene (TCE) to ethene, a completely dechlorinated and environmentally benign compound, by naturally occurring microorganisms within a fractured dolomite aquifer. Analyses of groundwater samples showed that three microbially produced TCE breakdown products (cis-1,2-dichloroethene, vinyl chloride, and ethene) were present in the contaminant plume. Hydrogen (H2) concentrations in groundwater indicated that iron reduction was the predominant terminal electron-accepting process in the most contaminated geologic zone of the site. Laboratory microcosms prepared with groundwater demonstrated complete sequential dechlorination of TCE to ethene. Microcosm assays also revealed that reductive dechlorination activity was present in waters from the center but not from the periphery of the contaminant plume. This dechlorination activity indicated that naturally occurring microorganisms have adapted to utilize chlorinated ethenes and suggested that dehalorespiring rather than cometabolic, microbial processes were the cause of the dechlorination. The addition of pulverized dolomite to microcosms enhanced the rate of reductive dechlorination, suggesting that hydrocarbons in the dolomite aquifer may serve as electron donors to drive microbially mediated reductive dechlorination reactions. Biodegradation of the chlorinated ethenes appears to contribute significantly to decontamination of the site.A combination of hydrogeological, geochemical, and microbiological methods was used to document the biotransformation of trichloroethene (TCE) to ethene, a completely dechlorinated and environmentally benign compound, by naturally occurring microorganisms within a fractured dolomite aquifer. Analyses of groundwater samples showed that three microbially produced TCE breakdown products (cis-1,2-dichloroethene, vinyl chloride, and ethene) were present in the contaminant plume. Hydrogen (H2) concentrations in groundwater indicated that iron reduction was the predominant terminal electron-accepting process in the most contaminated geologic zone of the site. Laboratory microcosms prepared with groundwater demonstrated complete sequential dechlorination of TCE to ethene. Microcosm assays also revealed that reductive dechlorination activity was present in waters from the center but not from the periphery of the contaminant plume. This dechlorination activity indicated that naturally occurring microorganisms have adapted to utilize chlorinated ethenes and suggested that dehalorespiring rather than cometabolic, microbial processes were the cause of the dechlorination. The addition of pulverized dolomite to microcosms enhanced the rate of reductive dechlorination, suggesting that hydrocarbons in the dolomite aquifer may serve as electron donors to drive microbially mediated reductive dechlorination reactions. Biodegradation of the chlorinated ethenes appears to contribute significantly to decontamination of the site.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Metabolic adaptation and in situ attenuation of chlorinated ethenes by naturally occurring microorganisms in a fractured dolomite aquifer near Niagara Falls, New York
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es970105a
Volume
31
Issue:
11
Year Published:
1997
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
First page:
3138
Last page:
3147
Number of Pages:
10