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Microbial community analysis of switchgrass planted and unplanted soil microcosms displaying PCB dechlorination

Liang, Yi, Meggo, Richard, Hu, Dingfei, Schnoor, Jerald L., Mattes, Timothy E.
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2015 v.99 no.15 pp. 6515-6526
Geobacter, Panicum virgatum, carcinogenicity, community structure, dechlorination, environmental health, humans, microbial communities, planting, polychlorinated biphenyls, population, restriction fragment length polymorphism, risk, soil bacteria, soil ecology
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pose potential risks to human and environmental health because they are carcinogenic, persistent, and bioaccumulative. In this study, we investigated bacterial communities in soil microcosms spiked with PCB 52, 77, and 153. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) was employed to improve overall PCB removal, and redox cycling (i.e., sequential periods of flooding followed by periods of no flooding) was performed in an effort to promote PCB dechlorination. Lesser chlorinated PCB transformation products were detected in all microcosms, indicating the occurrence of PCB dechlorination. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and clone library analysis showed that PCB spiking, switchgrass planting, and redox cycling affected the microbial community structure. Putative organohalide-respiring Chloroflexi populations, which were not found in unflooded microcosms, were enriched after 2 weeks of flooding in the redox-cycled microcosms. Sequences classified as Geobacter sp. were detected in all microcosms and were most abundant in the switchgrass-planted microcosm spiked with PCB congeners. The presence of possible organohalide-respiring bacteria in these soil microcosms suggests that they play a role in PCB dechlorination therein.