The degradation of trichloroethylene in mixed methanogenic cultures

N. H. Baek, Peter R. Jaffe

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22 Scopus citations


Symbiosis between nonmethanogenic fermenters and methanogens, which occurs through a phenomenon called the interspecies hydrogen transfer, can play an important role in the growth of these microorganisms. In the degradation of natural materials, methane production is frequently supported by this interspecies hydrogen transfer from fermenters that degrade the primary substrate, to methanogens that use the hydrogen to reduce carbonate to methane. The objective of this work was to evaluate the role of the fermenters in the degradation of trichloroethylene during methanogenesis. The results show that the fermentation process enhances the anaerobic degradation of trichloroethylene. In addition, it is shown that chloroethane appears as one of the products of the degradation of trichloroethylene by this mixed culture. The production of chloroethane indicates that hydrogenation of the double bond of a chlorinated ethene occurs during the degradation of trichloroethylene by cultures containing nonmethanogenic fermenters and methanogens. The metabolism involved in this degradation process may therefore provide a possible mechanism to completely degrade trichloroethylene under anaerobic conditions, because it is known that chloroethane is degraded rapidly to inorganic carbon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-518
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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