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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


American Society for Microbiology


A biological process for remediation of groundwater contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) can only be applied if the transformation products are environmentally acceptable. Studies with enrichment cultures of PCE- and TCE-degrading microorganisms provide evidence that, under methanogenic conditions, mixed cultures are able to completely dechlorinate PCE and TCE to ethylene, a product which is environmentally acceptable. Radiotracer studies with [14C]PCE indicated that [14C]ethylene was the terminal product; significant conversion to 14CO2 or 14CH4 was not observed. The rate-limiting step in the pathway appeared to be conversion of vinyl chloride to ethylene. To sustain reductive dechlorination of PCE and TCE, it was necessary to supply an electron donor; methanol was the most effective, although hydrogen, formate, acetate, and glucose also served. Studies with the inhibitor 2-bromoethanesulfonate suggested that methanogens played a key role in the observed biotransformations of PCE and TCE.


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