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Acetylene-Fueled Trichloroethene Reductive Dechlorination in a Groundwater Enrichment Culture.


In aquifers, acetylene (C2H2) is a product of abiotic degradation of trichloroethene (TCE) catalyzed by in situ minerals. C2H2 can, in turn, inhibit multiple microbial processes including TCE dechlorination and metabolisms that commonly support dechlorination, in addition to supporting the growth of acetylenotrophic microorganisms. Previously, C2H2 was shown to support TCE reductive dechlorination in synthetic, laboratory-constructed cocultures containing the acetylenotroph Pelobacter sp. strain SFB93 and Dehalococcoides mccartyi strain 195 or strain BAV1. In this study, we demonstrate TCE and perchloroethene (PCE) reductive dechlorination by a microbial community enriched from contaminated groundwater and amended with C2H2 as the sole electron donor and organic carbon source. The metagenome of the stable, enriched community was analyzed to elucidate putative community functions. A novel anaerobic acetylenotroph in the phylum Actinobacteria was identified using metagenomic analysis. These results demonstrate that the coupling of acetylenotrophy and reductive dechlorination can occur in the environment with native bacteria and broaden our understanding of biotransformation at contaminated sites containing both TCE and C2H2IMPORTANCE Understanding the complex metabolisms of microbial communities in contaminated groundwaters is a challenge. PCE and TCE are among the most common groundwater contaminants in the United States that, when exposed to certain minerals, exhibit a unique abiotic degradation pathway in which C2H2 is a product. C2H2 can act as both an inhibitor of TCE dechlorination and of supporting metabolisms and an energy source for acetylenotrophic bacteria. Here, we combine laboratory microcosm studies with computational approaches to enrich and characterize an environmental microbial community that couples two uncommon metabolisms, demonstrating unique metabolic interactions only yet reported in synthetic, laboratory-constructed settings. Using this comprehensive approach, we have identified the first reported anaerobic acetylenotroph in the phylum Actinobacteria, demonstrating the yet-undescribed diversity of this metabolism that is widely considered to be uncommon.

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