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Bacterium could treat PCBs without the need for dredging

a known as Dehalococcoides (Dhc).

Dhc are "strict anaerobic" bacteria, which means they cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. They are frequently involved in natural remediation of chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE), but this is the first time it has been demonstrated that Dhc can dechlorinate complex commercial PCB mixtures.

After identifying the Dhc bacteria, Bedard and her team proved that the anaerobic bacteria thrive on the PCBs, much as humans thrive on oxygen. The microbes replace the chlorines on the PCBs with hydrogen, which fuels their growth and begins the PCB degradation process.

The discovery of the Dhc bacterias unique abilities could one day alter the way we treat PCB contaminated water bodies, according to Bedard.

"Now that we have identified the PCB-dechlorinating bacteria and learned how to cultivate them in the laboratory, we can begin to understand the processes that they use to dechlorinate PCBs and tap their unique abilities to create new technologies that efficiently and safely remove commercial PCBs from our environment," she said.


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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
7-Mar-2007


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