The roles of methanogens and acetogens in dechlorination of trichloroethene using different electron donors

Li Lian Wen, Yin Zhang, Ya Wei Pan, Wen Qi Wu, Shao Hua Meng, Chen Zhou, Youneng Tang, Ping Zheng, He Ping Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We evaluated the effects of methanogens and acetogens on the function and structure of microbial communities doing reductive dechlorination of trichloroethene (TCE) by adding four distinct electron donors: lactate, a fermentable organic; acetate, a non-fermentable organic; methanol, a fermentable 1-C (carbon) organic; and hydrogen gas (H2), the direct electron donor for reductive dechlorination by Dehalococcoides. The fermentable electron donors had faster dechlorination rates, more complete dechlorination, and higher bacterial abundances than the non-fermentable electron donors during short-term tests. Phylotypes of Dehalococcoides were relatively abundant (≥9 %) for the cultures fed with fermentable electron donors but accounted for only ~1–2 % of the reads for the cultures fed by the non-fermentable electron donors. Routing electrons to methanogenesis and a low ratio of Dehalococcoides/methanogenesis (Dhc/mcrA) were associated with slow and incomplete reductive dechlorination with methanol and H2. When fermentable substrates were applied as electron donors, a Dhc/mcrA ratio ≥6.4 was essential to achieve fast and complete dechlorination of TCE to ethene. When methanogenesis was suppressed using 2-bromoethanesulfonate (BES), achieving complete dechlorination of TCE to ethane required a minimum abundance of the mcrA gene. Methanobacterium appeared to be important for maintaining a high dechlorination rate, probably by providing Dehalococcoides with cofactors other than vitamin B12. Furthermore, the presence of homoacetogens also was important to maintain a high dechlorination rate, because they provided acetate as Dehalococcoides’s obligatory carbon source and possibly cofactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19039-19047
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Dehalococcoides
  • Homoacetogens
  • Methanogens
  • Reductive dechlorination
  • TCE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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