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Unveiling the inhibitory mechanisms of chromium exposure on microbial reductive dechlorination: Kinetics and microbial responses.

Water Research 2024 Februrary 17
Chromium and organochlorine solvents, particularly trichloroethene (TCE), are pervasive co-existing contaminants in subsurface aquifers due to their extensive industrial use and improper disposal practices. In this study, we investigated the microbial dechlorination kinetics under different TCE-Cr(Ⅲ/VI) composite pollution conditions and elucidated microbial response mechanisms based on community shift patterns and metagenomic analysis. Our results revealed that the reductive dechlorinating consortium had high resistance to Cr(III) but extreme sensitivity to Cr(VI) disturbance, resulting in a persistent inhibitory effect on subsequent dechlorination. Interestingly, the vinyl chloride-respiring organohalide-respiring bacteria (OHRB) was notably more susceptible to Cr(III/VI) exposure than the trichloroethene-respiring one, possibly due to inferior competition for growth substrates, such as electron donors. In terms of synergistic non-OHRB populations, Cr(III/VI) exposure had limited impacts on lactate fermentation but significantly interfered with H2 -producing acetogenesis, leading to inhibited microbial dechlorination due to electron donor deficiencies. However, this inhibition can be effectively mitigated by the amendment of exogenous H2 supply. Furthermore, being the predominant OHRB, Dehalococcoides have inherent Cr(VI) resistance defects and collaborate with synergistic non-OHRB populations to achieve concurrent bio-detoxication of Cr(VI) and TCE. Our findings expand the understanding of the response patterns of different functional populations towards Cr(III/VI) stress, and provide valuable insights for the development of in situ bioremediation strategies for sites co-contaminated with chloroethene and chromium.

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