Use of gene probes to assess the impact and effectiveness of aerobic in situ bioremediation of TCE
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Hazen, TC and Chakraborty, R and Fleming, J and Gregory, IR and Bowman, JP and Jimenez, L and Zhang, D and Pfiffner, SM and Brockman, FJ and Sayler, GS, Use of gene probes to assess the impact and effectiveness of aerobic in situ bioremediation of TCE, Archives of Microbiology, 191, (3) pp. 221-232. ISSN 0302-8933 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Gene probe hybridization was used to determine distribution and expression of co-metabolic genes at a contaminated site as it underwent in situ methanotrophic bioremediation of trichloroethylene (TCE). The bioremediation strategies tested included a series of air, air:methane, and air:methane:nutrient pulses of the test plot using horizontal injection wells. During the test period, the levels of TCE reduced drastically in almost all test samples. Sediment core samples (n = 367) taken from 0 m (surface)-43 m depth were probed for gene coding for methanotrophic soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO) and heterotrophic toluene dioxygenase (TOD), which are known to co-metabolize TCE. The same sediment samples were also probed for genes coding for methanol dehydrogenase (MDH) (catalyzing the oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde) to assess specifically changes in methylotrophic bacterial populations in the site. Gene hybridization results showed that the frequency of detection of sMMO genes were stimulated approximately 250% following 1% methane:air (v/v) injection. Subsequent injection of 4% methane:air (v/v) resulted in an 85% decline probably due to nutrient limitations, since addition of nutrients (gaseous nitrogen and phosphorus) thereafter caused an increase in the frequency of detection of sMMO genes. Detection of TOD genes declined during the process, and eventually they were non-detectable by the final treatment, suggesting that methanotrophs displaced the TOD gene containing heterotrophs. Active transcription of sMMO and TOD was evidenced by hybridization to mRNA. These analyses combined with results showing the concomitant decline in TCE concentrations, increases in chloride concentration and increases in methanotroph viable counts, provide multiple lines of evidence that TCE remediation was caused specifically by methanotrophs. Our results suggest that sMMO genes are responsible for most, if not all, of the observed biodegradation of TCE. This study demonstrates that the use of nucleic acid analytical methods provided a gene specific assessment of the effects of in situ treatment technologies. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.
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