Rapid Mass Spectrometric DNA Diagnostics for Assessing Microbial Community Activity During Bioremediation

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Changes in pollutant profiles observed in contaminated soils have been attributed to biological activity when in actuality abiotic processes caused pollutant removal.1 This sometimes casual implication of biodegradation is not acceptable, but understandable, because factors which cause the disappearance of pollutants are not always easy to identify. Several pollutant removal or transformation pathways are possible with most pollutants found in soil and these processes may or may not operate independently. Careful evaluation of bioremediation necessitates that all transformation and removal pathways are anticipated so that the pathways are either controlled or monitored but in practice this is generally not possible. ... continued below

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Benner, W. Henry; Hunter-Cevera, Jennie & Jaklevic, Joseph M. December 31, 1999.

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Changes in pollutant profiles observed in contaminated soils have been attributed to biological activity when in actuality abiotic processes caused pollutant removal.1 This sometimes casual implication of biodegradation is not acceptable, but understandable, because factors which cause the disappearance of pollutants are not always easy to identify. Several pollutant removal or transformation pathways are possible with most pollutants found in soil and these processes may or may not operate independently. Careful evaluation of bioremediation necessitates that all transformation and removal pathways are anticipated so that the pathways are either controlled or monitored but in practice this is generally not possible. The diminution in pollutant oxidation might track with several candidate loss mechanisms and when this occurs the real cause becomes problematic to pin point. Many factors disguise or prevent the effectual tracking of bioremediation processes among which are three general types of problems: (1) The estimate that only about 0.1% or less of the microorganisms living in soils are culturable leads to the conclusion that the possibility for unknown organisms participating in a biodegradation pathway is high. How should these imperceptible microorganisms be tracked? (2) The diversity of the microcosm is large, yet several different genera have been shown to possess the same or very similar enzymes for degrading a pollutant. Cell counts of specific organisms, therefore may not track very well with the rate of loss or conversion of a pollutant. Should groups of organisms possessing similar biochemical reaction capabilities become the focus or is it more useful to track specific organisms? (3) Abiotic processes such as physical processes which transport pollutants away from a contamination site lead sometimes to the counterfactual conclusion that bioremediation occurred when in actuality the pollutant was diluted or dispersed heterogeneously. How do we handle a large number of samples so that significantly representative sampling and monitoring strategies are implementable? Diagnostic procedures based on identifying the activity of biodegrading organisms by using DNA-based procedures are attractive in light of these problems because they can be tuned to identify groups of organisms, specific organisms, and to detect signals that measure community activity.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 31 Dec 1999

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  • December 31, 1999

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  • April 21, 2016, 6:52 p.m.

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Benner, W. Henry; Hunter-Cevera, Jennie & Jaklevic, Joseph M. Rapid Mass Spectrometric DNA Diagnostics for Assessing Microbial Community Activity During Bioremediation, report, December 31, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc786810/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.