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Associating potential 1,4-dioxane biodegradation activity with groundwater geochemical parameters at four different contaminated sites

da Silva, Márcio Luís Busi, Woroszylo, Casper, Castillo, Nicolas Flores, Adamson, David T., Alvarez, Pedro J.J.
Journal of environmental management 2018 v.206 pp. 60-64
biodegradation, bioremediation, dioxane, dissolved oxygen, environmental factors, genes, groundwater, groundwater contamination, nutrients, pH, regression analysis, temperature
1,4-Dioxane (dioxane) is a groundwater contaminant of emerging concern for which bioremediation may become a practical remediation strategy. Therefore, it is important to advance our heuristic understanding of geochemical parameters that are most influential on the potential success of intrinsic bioremediation of dioxane-impacted sites. Here, Pearson's and Spearman's correlation and linear regression analyses were conducted to discern associations between 1,4-dioxane biodegradation activity measured in aerobic microcosms and groundwater geochemical parameters at four different contaminated sites. Dissolved oxygen, which is known to limit dioxane biodegradation, was excluded as a limiting factor in this analysis. Biodegradation activity was positively associated with dioxane concentrations (p < 0.01; R < 0.70) as well as the number of catabolic thmA gene copies (p < 0.01; R = 0.80) encoding dioxane monooxygenase. Thus, whereas environmental factors such as pH, temperature, and nutrients may influence dioxane biodegradation, these parameters did not exert as strong of an influence on potential biodegradation activity as the in situ concentration of substrate dioxane at the time of sampling. This analysis infers that aerobic sites with higher dioxane concentrations are more likely to select and sustain a thriving population of dioxane degraders, while sites with relatively low dioxane concentrations would be more difficult to attenuate naturally and may require alternative remediation strategies.