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Chloroform respiration to dichloromethane by a Dehalobacter population

Authors

  • Ariel Grostern,

    1. Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.
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    • Present address: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.

  • Melanie Duhamel,

    1. Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 3E5.
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  • Sandra Dworatzek,

    1. SiREM, Guelph, ON, Canada.
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  • Elizabeth A. Edwards

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 3E5.
    2. Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.
      E-mail elizabeth.edwards@utoronto.ca; Tel. (+1) 416 946 3506; Fax (+1) 416 978 8605.
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E-mail elizabeth.edwards@utoronto.ca; Tel. (+1) 416 946 3506; Fax (+1) 416 978 8605.

Summary

Chloroform (CF), or trichloromethane, is an ubiquitous environmental pollutant because of its widespread industrial use, historically poor disposal and recalcitrance to biodegradation. Chloroform is a potent inhibitor of metabolism and no known organism uses it as a growth substrate. We discovered that CF was rapidly and sustainably dechlorinated in the course of investigating anaerobic reductive dechlorination of 1,1,1-trichloroethane in a Dehalobacter-containing culture. Like 1,1,1-trichloroethane dechlorination in this culture, CF dechlorination was a growth-linked respiratory process, requiring H2 as an electron donor and CF as an electron acceptor. Moreover, the same specific reductive dehalogenase likely catalyzed both reactions. This Dehalobacter population appears specialized for substrates with three halogen substituents on the same carbon atom, with widespread implications for bioremediation.

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