Integrative isotopic and molecular approach for the diagnosis and implementation of an efficient in-situ enhanced biological reductive dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes

Natàlia Blázquez-Pallí, Mònica Rosell, Joan Varias, Marçal Bosch, Albert Soler, Teresa Vicent, Ernest Marco-Urrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Based on the previously observed intrinsic bioremediation potential of a site originally contaminated with perchloroethene (PCE), field-derived lactate-amended microcosms were performed to test different lactate isomers and concentrations, and find clearer isotopic and molecular parameters proving the feasibility of an in-situ enhanced reductive dechlorination (ERD) from PCE-to-ethene (ETH). According to these laboratory results, which confirmed the presence of Dehalococcoides sp. and the vcrA gene, an in-situ ERD pilot test consisting of a single injection of lactate in a monitoring well was performed and monitored for 190 days. The parameters used to follow the performance of the ERD comprised the analysis of i) hydrochemistry, including redox potential (Eh), and the concentrations of redox sensitive species, chlorinated ethenes (CEs), lactate, and acetate; ii) stable isotope composition of carbon of CEs, and sulphur and oxygen of sulphate; and iii) 16S rRNA gene sequencing from groundwater samples. Thus, it was proved that the injection of lactate promoted sulphate-reducing conditions, with the subsequent decrease in Eh, which allowed for the full reductive dechlorination of PCE to ETH in the injection well. The biodegradation of CEs was also confirmed by the enrichment in 13C and carbon isotopic mass balances. The metagenomic results evidenced the shift in the composition of the microbial population towards the predominance of fermentative bacteria. Given the success of the in-situ pilot test, a full-scale ERD with lactate was then implemented at the site. After one year of treatment, PCE and trichloroethene were mostly depleted, whereas vinyl chloride (VC) and ETH were the predominant metabolites. Most importantly, the shift of the carbon isotopic mass balances towards more positive values confirmed the complete reductive dechlorination, including the VC-to-ETH reaction step. The combination of techniques used here provides complementary lines of evidence for the diagnosis of the intrinsic biodegradation potential of a polluted site, but also to monitor the progress, identify potential difficulties, and evaluate the success of ERD at the field scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115106
Pages (from-to)115106
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2019


  • Carbon isotopic mass balance
  • Chlorinated ethenes
  • Dehalococcoides
  • Enhanced reductive dechlorination
  • In-situ pilot test
  • Organohalide-respiring bacteria
  • SP-NOV.

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