Indirect Evidence Link PCB Dehalogenation with Geobacteraceae in Anaerobic Sediment-Free Microcosms
Although polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) production was brought to a halt 30 years ago, recalcitrance to degradation makes them a major environmental pollutant at a global scale. Previous studies confirmed that organohalide-respiring bacteria (OHRB) were capable of utilizing chlorinated congeners as electron acceptor. OHRB belonging to the Phyla Chloroflexi and Firmicutes are nowadays considered as the main PCB-dechlorinating organisms. In this study, we aimed at exploring the involvement of other taxa in PCB dechlorination using sediment-free microcosms (SFMs) and the Delor PCB mixture. High rates of congener dehalogenation (up to 96%) were attained in long-term incubations of up to 692 days. Bacterial communities were dominated by Chloroflexi, Proteobacteria, and Firmicutes, among strictly simplified community structures composed of 12 major phyla only. In a first batch of SFMs, Dehalococcoides mccartyi closely affiliated with strains CG4 and CBDB1 was considered as the main actor associated with congener dehalogenation. Addition of 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BES), a known inhibitor ofmethanogenic activity in a second batch of SFMs had an adverse effect on the abundance of Dehalococcoides sp. Only two sequences affiliated to this Genus could be detected in two (out of six) BES-treated SFMs, contributing to a mere 0.04% of the communities. BES-treated SFMs showed very different community structures, especially in the contributions of organisms involved in fermentation and syntrophic activities. Indirect evidence provided by both statistical and phylogenetic analysis validated the implication of a new cluster of actors, distantly affiliated with the Family Geobacteraceae (Phylum d-Proteobacteria), in the dehalogenation of low chlorinated PCB congeners. Members of this Family are known already for their dehalogenation capacity of chlorinated solvents. As a result, the present study widens the knowledge for the phylogenetic reservoir of indigenous PCB dechlorinating taxa.