Chloroform (CF) can undergo reductive dechlorination to dichloromethane, chloromethane, and methane. However, competition for hydrogen (H 2 ), the electron-donor substrate, may cause poor dechlorination when multiple electron acceptors are present. Common acceptors in anaerobic environments are nitrate (NO 3 ), sulfate (SO 4 2− ), and bicarbonate (HCO 3 ). We evaluated CF dechlorination in the presence of HCO 3 at 1.56 e Eq/m 2 -day, then NO 3 at 0.04–0.15 e Eq/m 2 -day, and finally NO 3 (0.04 e Eq/m 2 -day) along with SO 4 2− at 0.33 e Eq/m 2 -day in an H 2 -based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR). When the biofilm was initiated with CF-dechlorination conditions (no NO 3 or SO 4 2− ), it yielded a CF flux of 0.14 e Eq/m 2 -day and acetate production via homoacetogenesis up to 0.26 e eq/m 2 -day. Subsequent addition of NO 3 at 0.05 e Eq/m 2 -day maintained full CF dechlorination and homoacetogenesis, but NO 3 input at 0.15 e Eq/m 2 -day caused CF to remain in the reactor's effluent and led to negligible acetate production. The addition of SO 4 2− did not affect CF reduction, but SO 4 2− reduction significantly altered the microbial community by introducing sulfate-reducing Desulfovibrio and more sulfur-oxidizing Arcobacter. Dechloromonas appeared to carry out CF dechlorination and denitrification, whereas Acetobacterium (homoacetogen) may have been involved with hydrolytic dechlorination. Modifications to the electron acceptors fed to the MBfR caused the microbial community to undergo changes in structure that reflected changes in the removal fluxes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1439-1448
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Dechloromonas
  • dechlorination
  • electron-acceptor competition
  • membrane biofilm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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