Toluene-driven anaerobic biodegradation of chloroform in a continuous-flow bioelectrochemical reactor

Ernesto Marco Urrea, Matteo Tucci, David Juan Fernandez Verdejo, Marco Resitano, Pamela Ciacia, Albert Guisasola Canudas, Francisca Blánquez Cano, Carolina Cruz Viggi, Bruna Matturro, Simona Crognale, Federico Aulenta

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Subsurface co-contamination by multiple pollutants can be challenging for the design of bioremediation strategies since it may require promoting different and often antagonistic degradation pathways. Here, we investigated the simultaneous degradation of toluene and chloroform (CF) in a continuous-flow anaerobic bioelectrochemical reactor. As a result, 47 μmol L −1 d −1 of toluene and 60 μmol L −1 d −1 of CF were concurrently removed, when the anode was polarized at +0.4 V vs. Standard Hydrogen Electrode (SHE). Analysis of the microbial community structure and key functional genes allowed to identify the involved degradation pathways. Interestingly, when acetate was supplied along with toluene, to simulate the impact of a readily biodegradable substrate on process performance, toluene degradation was adversely affected, likely due to competitive inhibition effects. Overall, this study proved the efficacy of the developed bioelectrochemical system in simultaneously treating multiple groundwater contaminants, paving the way for the application in real-world scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139467
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Bioremediation
  • Chloroform
  • Groundwater remediation
  • Microbial electrochemical technologies
  • Toluene


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