Quantification of in situ (bio)degradation using compound-specific isotope analysis requires a known and constant isotope enrichment factor (ε). Because reported isotope enrichment factors for microbial dehalogenation of chlorinated ethenes vary considerably we studied the potential effects of metabolic adaptation to TCE respiration on isotope fractionation (δ13C and δ37Cl) using a model organism (Desulfitobacterium hafniesne Y51), which only has one reductive dehalogenase (PceA). Cells grown on TCE for the first time showed exponential growth until 109 cells/mL. During exponential growth, the cell-normalized amount of PceA enzyme increased steadily in the presence of TCE (up to 21 pceA transcripts per cell) but not with alternative substrates (<1 pceA transcript per cell). Cultures initially transferred or subcultivated on TCE showed very similar isotope fractionation, both for carbon (εcarbon: -8.6‰ ± 0.3‰ or -8.8‰ ± 0.2‰) and chlorine (εchlorine: -2.7‰ ± 0.3‰) with little variation (0.7‰) for the different experimental conditions. Thus, TCE isotope fractionation by D. hafniense strain Y51 was affected by neither growth phase, pceA transcription, or translation, nor by PceA content per cell, suggesting that transport limitations did not affect isotope fractionation. Previously reported variable ε values for other organohalide-respiring bacteria might thus be attributed to different expression levels of their multiple reductive dehalogenases.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.