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Microbial community structure and biodegradation activity of particle-associated bacteria in a coal tar contaminated creek
Environmental Science & Technology (2009)
  • Jennifer M. DeBruyn
  • Gary S. Sayler, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The Chattanooga Creek Superfund site (Chattanooga, TN) is one of the most polluted waterways in the southeastern U.S. with high polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in the sediments. PAHs associate with suspended solids in the water column, and may be redeposited onto the floodplain. These suspended particles represent an interesting but understudied environment for PAH-degrading microbial communities. This study tested the hypotheses that particle-associated bacterial (PAB) communities have genotypic potential (PAH-dioxygenase genes) and activity (naphthalene and pyrene mineralization), and can contribute to natural attenuation of PAHs in Chattanooga Creek. Upstream of the Superfund site, mineralization ranged from 0.2 to 2.0% of added 14C-naphthalene and 0 to 0.1% 14C-pyrene (after 40 h), with first order biodegradation rate constants (k1) ranging from 1.09 to 9.18 × 10−5 h−1 and 0 to 1.13 × 10−6 h−1, respectively. Mineralization was significantly greater in PAB communities within the contaminated zone, with 11.8 to 31.2% 14C-naphthalene (k1 5.34 to 14.2 × 10−4 h−1) and 1.3 to 6.6% 14C-pyrene mineralized (k1 2.89 to 15.0 × 10−5 h−1). Abundances of nagAc (naphthalene dioxygenase) and nidA (pyrene dioxygenase) genes indicated that PAB communities harbored populations with genetic potential for both low- and high-molecular weight PAH degradation, and quantification of Mycobacterium 16S rDNA genes indicated that PAH-degrading mycobacteria are also prevalent in this environment. Phylogenetic comparisons (T-RFLPs) between PAB and sediments indicated these microbial communities were taxonomically distinct, but shared some functional similarities, namely PAH catabolic genotypes, mineralization capabilities, and community structuring along a contamination gradient. DOI: 10.1021/es803373y
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Jennifer M. DeBruyn and Gary S. Sayler. "Microbial community structure and biodegradation activity of particle-associated bacteria in a coal tar contaminated creek" Environmental Science & Technology Vol. 43 Iss. 9 (2009)
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