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Strategy for the Rapid Dechlorination of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) by Dehalococcoides mccartyi Strains

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journal contribution
posted on 20.11.2018, 00:00 by Chen Chen, Jianzhong He
Anaerobic bacteria play critical roles in the environmental bioremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). However, in situ applications of PCB dechlorinating anaerobes have been largely impeded by difficulties in growing PCB dechlorinators to a high cell abundance in short time periods. Here, we report the accelerated onset of PCB dechlorination by pre-cultivating Dehalococcoides mccartyi strains on chloroethenes as alternative electron acceptors. The extensive dechlorination of Aroclor 1260 was achieved within 1 week by D. mccartyi CG4 pregrown on trichloroethene (TCE) or tetrachloroethene (PCE). Compared to control cultures fed solely with Aroclor 1260, the PCB dechlorination rate was up to 30 times greater in cultures pre-cultivated with chloroethenes. However, when CG4 was simultaneously exposed to multiple potential substrates (PCE, TCE, and PCBs), PCB dechlorination was not observed until PCE was completely depleted. The expression of the bifunctional PCE and PCBs reductive dehalogenase (RDase) gene pcbA4 was inhibited by the presence of both substrates. Furthermore, in the presence of >0.3 mM TCE (produced as an intermediate from PCE dechlorination), the PCB dechlorination rate was an order of magnitude lower than in cultures amended with Aroclor 1260 after the complete depletion of TCE. This reduced PCB dechlorination rate corresponded with a sharp decrease in pcbA4 transcripts in the presence of both TCE and PCBs. The utilization of chloroethenes and PCBs as substrates by CG4 was found to be largely sequential rather than concurrent, suggesting that PCE and TCE are preferred substrates for the RDase responsible for PCE, TCE, and PCB dechlorination.