Hydrochemical Conditions for Aerobic/Anaerobic Biodegradation of Chlorinated Ethenes—A Multi-Site Assessment

A stall of cis-1,2-DCE and vinyl chloride (VC) is frequently observed during bioremediation of groundwater chloroethenes via reductive dechlorination. These chloroethenes may be oxidised by aerobic methanotrophs or ethenotrophs co-metabolically and/or metabolically. We assessed the potential for such oxidation at 12 sites (49 groundwater samples) using hydrochemical and molecular biological tools. Both ethenotroph (etnC and etnE) and methanotroph (mmoX and pmoA) functional genes were identified in 90% of samples, while reductive dehalogenase functional genes (vcrA and bvcA) were identified in 82%. All functional genes were simultaneously detected in 78% of samples, in actively biostimulated sites in 88% of samples. Correlation analysis revealed that cis-1,2-DCE concentration was positively correlated with vcrA, etnC and etnE, while VC concentration was correlated with etnC, etnE, vcrA and bvcA. However, feature selection based on random forest classification indicated a significant relationship for the vcrA in relation to cis-1,2-DCE, and vcrA, bvcA and etnE for VC and no prove of relationship between cis-1,2-DCE or VC and the methanotroph functional genes. Analysis of hydrochemical parameters indicated that aerobic oxidation of chloroethenes by ethenotrophs may take place under a range of redox conditions of aquifers and coincide with high ethene and VC concentrations.
chlorinated solvents, biological reductive dechlorination, aerobic oxidation, qPCR, ethenotrophs, methanotrophs