Influence of pH on dehalorespiring consortia & first steps in the development of a methodology for acid neutralization in enhanced in situ bioremediation

Enhanced in situ bioremediation of chlorinated solvents is, especially in source zone remediation, often limited through the accompanied high acidification of groundwater. This acid built-up originating from the dechlorination itself and fermentation products, such as organic acids, presents a draw-back in the efficiency of dehalorespiring bacteria. It is therefore indispensable to develop and implement appropriate buffering strategies to ensure a constant transformation of toxic chloroethenes to the final non-toxic product ethene. In this study pH tolerance of different dehalorespiring bacteria was tested. The limiting acidic pH varies significantly among the consortia. The consortium SL23b4 (PCE to ethene) grows at all the examined pH (pH 5 to pH 7.5) with a pH optimum between 6 and 7 (depending on the dechlorination step), whereas Maroc 6b (PCE to ethene) was only found to grow at incubation pH of 7, and very slowly at pH 6.5. The consortium 2SO (cis-DCE to ethene) seems to be inhibited at acidic pH (no growth at pH 5 and 5.5) having a pH optimum above neutral pH. In most cases incomplete dechlorination was observed in cultures growing at acidic pH or below the pH optima, accumulating toxic intermediate dechlorination products as a consequence. Additionally, high rates of dechlorination were always accompanied by pH drops up to 1.2 pH units, giving evidence of high acid production. pH had also influence on the community composition. In the consortium SL23b4 a shift from a Dehalococcoides- (pH 6-7.5) to a Sulfurospirillum spp.- (pH5 -5.5) dominated community was observed. Consortium Maroc 6b showed significantly different community compositions due to a pH change of only 0.5 pH units. Dehalococcoides spp. and Dehalobacter spp. were dominating at pH 7 and pH 6.5, respectively. Consortium 2SO is dominated by Dehalococcoides spp. at all pH, although at pH 7 a much higher diversity seems to prevail, with the threefold number of OTUs. Tests on the tolerance of the dehalorespiring consortia for elevated PCE concentration showed similar patterns for the different dechlorination steps, as for pH cultures, and confirmed a generally higher sensitivity towards PCE and pH changes for the last steps of dechlorination. Conclusively, Dehalococcoides spp., the only known genera able to perform complete dechlorination, seem to be highly sensitive to pH and PCE changes. Further, abiotic experiments on silicate mineral dissolution, using forsteritic olivine, were performed to simulate the buffer capacity of the minerals for the acid production during microbial reductive dechlorination. In these experiments, the buffer capacity was insufficient to counterbalance the constant acid titration rate, resulting in a final pH between 3 and 4 (initial pH of 7). The formation of precipitates, such as iron oxide, and the re-precipitation of magnesium were observed in some cases, showing a decrease in magnesium concentrations.

Holliger, Christof

 Record created 2011-04-04, last modified 2018-01-28

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