Survival of indicator organisms during enrichment on tetrachloroethene

J. D. Skramstad, C. J. Hurst, P. J. Novak

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A laboratory study was performed as the basis for a full-scale bioaugmentation project at a site contaminated with chlorinated ethenes. The objectives of this study were to 1) develop a protocol to enrich for a tetrachloroethene (PCE)-dechlorinating culture from waste activated sludge and anaerobic digester biosolids and 2) monitor the survival of fecal coliform bacteria and bacteriophage, which model enteric viruses, during the enrichment process. A culture was enriched in 8 days with the ability to degrade 6-μM PCE to cis-dichloroethene. Using the enrichment protocol in two identical experiments, significant inactivation of fecal coliform bacteria (2 log) and somatic coliphage (0.33 log) was observed in one of the experiments; no inactivation occurred in the second experiment. The number of F-specific coliphage decreased in both experiments (0.87 and 1.26 log inactivation). Despite the decrease in some of the coliform and bacteriophage numbers, the quantity of organisms and phage particles present after enrichment was still high (∼7.5 × 105 most probable number/L, 6.9 × 106 plaque-forming units (PFU)/L. and 3.3 × 105 PFU/L, for fecal coliform bacteria, somatic coliphage, and F-specific coliphage, respectively). This may be cause for concern, depending on the current and future groundwater use at or near a site undergoing bioaugmentation with cultures derived from waste activated sludge and anaerobic digester biosolids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-376
Number of pages9
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Bioaugmentation
  • Bioremediation
  • Indicator organism survival


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