Bacterial community composition determined by culture-independent and -dependent methods during propane-stimulated bioremediation in trichloroethene-contaminated groundwater


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An in situ co-metabolic air sparging (CAS) study was carried out at McClellan Air Force Base (MAFB), Sacramento, CA, USA, in a trichloroethene- (TCE) and cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE)-contaminated aquifer where one test zone received 2% propane in air and the other served as a control and received only air. As part of that study, bacterial population shifts were evaluated by length heterogeneity polymerase chain reaction (LH-PCR). The results showed that an organism(s) that had a fragment size of 385 bp was positively correlated with propane removal rates. The 385 bp fragment consisted of up to 83% of the total fragments in the analysis when propane removal rates peaked. A 16S rRNA clone library made from the bacteria sampled from the propane-sparged groundwater included clones of a TM7 division bacterium that had a 385 bp LH-PCR fragment; no other bacterial species with this fragment size were detected. Both propane removal rates and the 385 bp LH-PCR fragment decreased as nitrate levels in the groundwater decreased. Extinction culturing in natural unamended groundwater medium was used to assess the bacterial diversity of the culturable fraction of microorganisms in both CAS and air-sparged groundwater and to bring novel species into culture for further study. The dominant cultures acquired from the CAS groundwater were from the Herbaspirillum/Oxalobacter clade. The dominant cultures from the air-sparged groundwater were from a novel beta-Proteobacterial clade, which we named after isolate HTCC333.