Biodegradation of Chlorinated Solvents: Reactions near DNAPL and Enzyme Function

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Chlorinated solvents are among the most widespread groundwater contaminants in the country, contamination which is also among the most difficult and expensive for remediation. These solvents are biodegradable in the absence of oxygen, but this biodegradation requires both a food source for the organisms (electron donor) and the presence of chlorinated solvent biodegrading organisms. These two requirements are present naturally at some contamination sites, leading to natural attenuation of the solvents. If one or both requirements are absent, then engineered bioremediation either through addition of an external electron donor or through bioaugmentation with appropriate microorganisms, or both, may be used ... continued below

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15 pages

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McCarty, P. L.; Spormann, Alfred M. & Criddle, Craig, S. December 11, 2003.

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Chlorinated solvents are among the most widespread groundwater contaminants in the country, contamination which is also among the most difficult and expensive for remediation. These solvents are biodegradable in the absence of oxygen, but this biodegradation requires both a food source for the organisms (electron donor) and the presence of chlorinated solvent biodegrading organisms. These two requirements are present naturally at some contamination sites, leading to natural attenuation of the solvents. If one or both requirements are absent, then engineered bioremediation either through addition of an external electron donor or through bioaugmentation with appropriate microorganisms, or both, may be used for site remediation. The most difficult case for cleanup is when a large residual of undissolved chlorinated solvents are present, residing as dense -non-aqueous-phase- liquid ( DNAPL). A major focus of this study was on the potential for biodegradation of the solvents when pre sent as DNAPL where concentrations are very high and potential for toxicity to microorganisms exist. Another focus was on a better understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in chlorinated solvent biodegradation . These studies were directed towards the chlorinated solvents, trichloroethene (TCE), tetrachloroethene or perchloroethene (PCE), and carbon tetrachloride (CT). The potential for biodegradation of TCE and PCE DNAPL was clearly demonstrated in this research. From column soil studies and batch studies we found there to be a clear advantage in focusing efforts at bioremediation near the DNAPL. Here, chlorinated solvent concentrations are the highest, both because of more favorable reaction kinetics and because such high solvent concentrations are toxic to microorganisms, such as methanogens, which compete with dehalogenators for the electron donor. Additionally, biodegradation near a PCE DNAPL results in an enhanced dissolution rate for the chlorinated solvent, by factors of three to five times, leading to a more rapid clean-up of the DNAPL zone. The most favored electron donor to add is one which partitions well with the chlorinated solvent or can be concentrated near it. Unfortunately, an ideal electron donor, such as vegetable oil, is difficult to introduce and mix with DNAPL in the ground, doing this properly remains an engineering challenge. Numerical model studies have indicated that several factors may significantly influence the rate and extent of enhancement, including the inhibitory effects of PCE and cDCE, the level of ED concentration, DNAPL configuration, and competition for ED. Such factors need to be considered when contemplating engineered DNAPL bioremediation. Pseudomonas stuzeri KC is an organism that transforms CT to carbon dioxide and chloride without the formation of the hazardous intermediate, chloroform. This is accomplished by production and secretion of a molecule called PDTC. This study was direct ed towards determining how PDTC works. Cu (II) at a ratio of 1:1 Cu to PDTC was found to result in the most rapid CT transformation, confirming that the PDTC-Cu complex is both a reactant and a catalyst in CT transformation. CT degradation requires that the PDTC be in a reduced form, which is generated by contact with cell components. Fe(II) inhibits CT transformation by PDTC. Studies indicated that this inhibition is enhanced by some compound or factor in the supernatant with molecular weight greater than 10,000 Da. We have made progress in determining what this factor might be, but have not yet been able to identify it. In related studies, we found that CT transformation by another organism, Shewanella oneidensis MR1, also involves an excreted factor, but this factor is different from PDTC and results in chloroform transformation as an intermediate. Our studies have indicated that this factor is similar to vitamin K2, and we have also confirmed that vitamin K2 does transform C T into chloroform.

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15 pages

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INIS; OSTI as DE00820096

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  • Report No.: DOE/ER62883
  • Grant Number: FG07-99ER62883
  • DOI: 10.2172/820096 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 820096
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc740157

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  • December 11, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • April 20, 2016, 6:41 p.m.

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McCarty, P. L.; Spormann, Alfred M. & Criddle, Craig, S. Biodegradation of Chlorinated Solvents: Reactions near DNAPL and Enzyme Function, report, December 11, 2003; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc740157/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.