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The effects of co-contaminants and native wetland sediments on the activity and dominant transformation mechanisms of a 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (TeCA)-degrading enrichment culture

March 22, 2016

Bioremediation strategies, including bioaugmentation with chlorinated ethene-degrading enrichment cultures, have been successfully applied in the cleanup of subsurface environments contaminated with tetrachloroethene (PCE) and/or trichloroethene (TCE). However, these compounds are frequently found in the environment as components of mixtures that may also contain chlorinated ethanes and methanes. Under these conditions, the implementation of bioremediation may be complicated by inhibition effects, particularly when multiple dehalorespirers are present. We investigated the ability of the 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (TeCA)-dechlorinating culture WBC-2 to biotransform TeCA alone, or a mixture of TeCA plus PCE and carbon tetrachloride (CT), in microcosms. The microcosms contained electron donors provided to biostimulate the added culture and sediment collected from a wetland where numerous “hotspots” of contamination with chlorinated solvent mixtures exist. The dominant TeCA biodegradation mechanism mediated by the WBC-2 culture in the microcosms was different in the presence of these wetland sediments than in the sediment-free enrichment culture or in previous WBC-2 bioaugmented microcosms and column tests conducted with wetland sediment collected at nearby sites. The co-contaminants and their daughter products also inhibited TeCA biodegradation by WBC-2. These results highlight the need to conduct biodegradability assays at new sites, particularly when multiple contaminants and dehalorespiring populations are present.