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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


American Society for Microbiology


Biodegradation of dichloromethane (DCM) to environmentally acceptable products was demonstrated under methanogenic conditions (35 degrees C). When DCM was supplied to enrichment cultures as the sole organic compound at a low enough concentration to avoid inhibition of methanogenesis, the molar ratio of CH4 formed to DCM consumed (0.473) was very close to the amount predicted by stoichiometric conservation of electrons. DCM degradation was also demonstrated when methanogenesis was partially inhibited (with 0.5 to 1.5 mM 2-bromoethanesulfonate or approximately 2 mM DCM) or completely stopped (with 50 to 55.5 mM 2-bromoethanesulfonate). Addition of a eubacterial inhibitor (vancomycin, 100 mg/liter) greatly reduced the rate of DCM degradation. 14CO2 was the principal product of [14C]DCM degradation, followed by 14CH4 (when methanogenesis was uninhibited) or 14CH3COOH (when methanogenesis was partially or completely inhibited). Hydrogen accumulated during DCM degradation and then returned to background levels when DCM was consumed. These results suggested that nonmethanogenic organisms mediated DCM degradation, oxidizing a portion to CO2 and fermenting the remainder to acetate; acetate formation suggested involvement of an acetogen. Methanogens in the enrichment culture then converted the products of DCM degradation to CH4. Aceticlastic methanogens were more easily inhibited by 2-bromoethanesulfonate and DCM than were CO2-reducing methanogens. When DCM was the sole organic-carbon and electron donor source supplied, its use as a growth substrate was demonstrated. The highest observed yield was 0.085 g of suspended organic carbon formed per g of DCM carbon consumed. Approximately 85% of the biomass formed was attributable to the growth of nonmethanogens, and 15% was attributable to methanogens.


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