The impact of H 2 addition on dechlorinating microbial communities

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Laboratory-scale column experiments were performed to investigate the effects of membrane-supplied H 2 on tetrachloroethene (PCE) dechlorination and microbial community composition. Columns were filled with aquifer material from one of two TCE-contaminated sites and fed a PCE-spiked anaerobic minimal medium for approximately 1 year. For each experiment, one or more experimental columns were supplied with H 2 via gas-permeable hollow-fiber membranes with one control column not receiving any H 2. After approximately 1 year of operation, aquifer material samples were collected along the length of the columns. Bacterial communities in the samples were analyzed by amplifying the highly variable V3 region of the 16S rRNA gene and separating amplicons using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Microbial community profiles in H 2-fed (continuous or pulsed delivery) columns were compared with those in untreated control columns and microbial community profiles were also compared with dechlorination profiles. Selected bands were sequenced for identification. Supply of the simple electron donor H 2, changed the microbial community composition, but did not decrease overall diversity. Continuous H 2 addition via hollow-fiber membranes enriched for Dehalococcoides-like species, whose relative abundance correlated with enhanced dechlorination activity. PCE was completely dechlorinated to ethene in columns packed with aquifer material from Cape Canaveral, Florida; PCE was dechlorinated to only cis- dichloroethene, however, in columns packed with aquifer material from a TCE-contaminated wetland near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unexpectedly, Dehalococcoides-like populations were detected in samples from both sets of column experiments. These results suggest that the mere detection of Dehalococcoides-like species in a sample of aquifer material is not a sufficient indicator of the potential to dechlorinate PCE to ethene via biostimulation by H 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalBioremediation Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Aquifer
  • Biostimulation
  • Hollow fiber membrane
  • Hydrogen
  • Microbial community
  • Microbial diversity
  • Reductive dechlorination
  • Tetrachloroethene

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