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Effective degradation of polychlorinated biphenyls by a facultative anaerobic bacterial consortium using alternating anaerobic aerobic treatments

Pathiraja, Gathanayana, Egodawatta, Prasanna, Goonetilleke, Ashantha, Te'o, Valentino S. Junior
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.659 pp. 507-514
Achromobacter, Lysinibacillus, Ochrobactrum, aerobic conditions, aroclors, bacteria, biodegradation, dechlorination, oxidation, solubilization, toxicity
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic mixtures of chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds that were widely used in the past and still found in the environment due to their highly recalcitrant nature. A combination of anaerobic dechlorination and aerobic oxidation is essential to degrade these PCB mixtures into less toxic products. It was hypothesized that due to the complexity of PCB mixtures, a consortium of carefully selected suitable microbial species will perform better than the application of individual microbes. In the present study, biodegradation of the commercial PCB mixture, Aroclor 1260, was studied under two different combined anaerobic-aerobic conditions, namely, alternating (AN) and two stage (TS). The facultative anaerobic bacterial consortium consisted of naturally occurring Achromobacter sp. NP03, Ochrobactrum sp. NP04 and Lysinibacillus sp. NP05. These bacteria were found capable as individuals of solubilizing and degrading PCBs under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. 49.2 ± 2.5% total reduction of the original 50 mg/L Aroclor 1260 mixture was achieved after 2 weeks in AN treatment whereas the reduction was only 24.44 ± 2.46% in TS treatment. At the end of week 6, a yield of 17.63 ± 0.91 mg/L chloride released was measured under AN condition compared to 11.79 ± 1.28 mg/L measured under TS condition. The overall results suggested that the microbial consortia capable of degrading and utilizing PCBs under both, anaerobic and aerobic conditions achieved better PCB degradation by repeated exposure to short periods of anaerobic and aerobic conditions alternatingly rather than the conventional two stage anaerobic-aerobic conditions.