Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic compounds ubiquitously distributed in ecosystems. Microbial attenuation of these contaminants is a potential means of remediation. Two promising microbial PCB remediation technologies, biostimulation and bioaugmentation, were investigated in different sediments. Biostimulation experiments in which electron donor was supplied (H2 via elemental iron, Fe0) resulted in only a marginal improvement in the dechlorination of amended 2,3,4,5-tetrachlorobiphenyl (2,3,4,5-CB), likely because of an inadequate population of indigenous H2-utilizing dechlorinators. Extensive dechlorination was observed, however, after bioaugmenting microcosms with a PCB-dechlorinating enrichment culture. Dechlorination of 2,3,4,5-CB began prior to the 20th day of incubation and proceeded to 2-chlorobiphenyl. This extensive dechlorination activity was maintained in both sediments over 70 d at 10 and 25 °C. This research demonstrates that although past studies of biostimulation were promising, a great deal must be known about the PCB-dechlorinating organisms present before successful biostimulation is expected. Bioaugmentation, however, appears to be a promising PCB remediation strategy and should be further pursued.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge Scott Cieniawski at the USEPA for providing the Raisin River sediment samples and Nigel Wattrus at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, for providing the Duluth Harbor sediment samples. Funding for this work was provided by Sea Grant Minnesota (Grant R/CE-2).
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