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Microbial community response to a bioaugmentation test to degrade trichloroethylene in a fractured rock aquifer, Trenton, N.J

August 5, 2022

Bioaugmentation is a promising strategy for enhancing trichloroethylene (TCE) degradation in fractured rock. However, slow or incomplete biodegradation can lead to stalling at degradation byproducts such as 1,2-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC). Over the course of 7 years, we examined the response of groundwater microbial populations in a bioaugmentation test where an emulsified vegetable oil solution (EOS®) and a dechlorinating consortium (KB-1®), containing the established dechlorinator Dehalococcoides (DHC), were injected into a TCE-contaminated fractured rock aquifer. Indigenous microbial communities responded within 2 days to added substrate and outcompeted KB-1®, and over the years of monitoring, several other notable turnover events were observed. Concentrations of ethene, the end product in reductive dechlorination, had the strongest correlations (P< .05) with members of Candidatus Colwellbacteria but their involvement in reductive dechlorination is unknown and warrants further investigation.DHC never exceeded 0.6% relative abundance of groundwater microbial communities, despite its previously presumed importance at the site. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, acetic acid, and methane were positively correlated with increasing ethene concentrations; however, concentrations of cis-DCE and VC remained high by the end of the monitoring period suggesting preferential enrichment of indigenous partial dechlorinators over bioaugmented complete dechlorinators. This study highlights the importance of characterizing in situ microbial populations to understand how they can potentially enhance or inhibit augmented TCE degradation.

Publication Year 2022
Title Microbial community response to a bioaugmentation test to degrade trichloroethylene in a fractured rock aquifer, Trenton, N.J
DOI 10.1093/femsec/fiac077
Authors Jennifer C. Underwood, Denise M. Akob, Michelle Lorah, Thomas E. Imbrigiotta, Ronald W. Harvey, Claire R. Tiedeman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Microbial Ecology
Index ID 70234253
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Jersey Water Science Center; WMA - Laboratory & Analytical Services Division; Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Water Science Center; Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center