Deciphering the Variability of Stable Isotope (C, Cl) Fractionation of Tetrachloroethene Biotransformation by Desulfitobacterium strains Carrying Different Reductive Dehalogenases Enzymes

Johannes Büsing, Daniel Buchner, Sebastian Behrens, Stefan B. Haderlein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Kinetic isotope effects have been used successfully to prove and characterize organic contaminant transformation on various scales including field and laboratory studies. For tetrachloroethene (PCE) biotransformation, however, causes for the substantial variability of reported isotope enrichment factors (ϵ) are still not deciphered (ϵC = -0.4 to -19.0‰). Factors such as different reaction mechanisms and masking of isotope fractionation by either limited intracellular mass transfer or rate-limitations within the enzymatic multistep reaction are under discussion. This study evaluated the contribution of these factors to the magnitude of carbon and chlorine isotope fractionation of Desulfitobacterium strains harboring three different PCE-transforming enzymes (PCE-RdhA). Despite variable single element isotope fractionation (ϵC = -5.0 to -19.7‰ ϵCl = -1.9 to -6.3‰), similar slopes of dual element isotope plots (λC/Cl values of 2.4 ± 0.1 to 3.6 ± 0.1) suggest a common reaction mechanism for different PCE-RdhAs. Cell envelope properties of the Desulfitobacterium strains allowed to exclude masking effects due to PCE mass transfer limitation. Our results thus revealed that different rate-limiting steps (e.g., substrate channel diffusion) in the enzymatic multistep reactions of individual PCE-RdhAs rather than different reaction mechanisms determine the extent of PCE isotope fractionation in the Desulfitobacterium genus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1593-1602
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 4 2020


PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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