Novel Approaches to Studying the In SITU Bioremediation of Complex Mixtures

Project: Research project

Project Details


Research carried out in the past at the University of California, Davis (UCD) and Arizona State University (ASU) has identified the antimicrobial agent triclocarban (TCC) as an environmental pollutant that occurs nationwide in terrestrial and aquatic environments including a number of Superfund sites. Widespread environmental occurrence of TCC deserves further studies because the compound (i) has the potential to impair the activity of microbial communities involved in the remediation of EPA priority pollutants, (ii) is persistent and bioaccumulative, (iii) has been shown to be present in biota including humans, (iv) and was discovered to act as an endocrine disruptor. In an extension of ongoing work at UCD and ASU, the two universities are proposing to study the molecular basis of TCC toxicity in animals and humans and to determine the TCC body burden in the general U.S. population. The 24-month joint research project leverages mass spectrometric, metabolomic and proteomic techniques of both laboratory groups and will create job opportunities for early carreer scientists. Specific aims include to: (1) monitor blood and urine samples collected from humans exposed to TCC during showers with commercial TCC containing soap; (2) extrapolate the above exposure studies to TCC levels extant in archived human urines collected longitudinally over 12 years (ASU); and (3) expose rats orally and dermally to TCC to determine the best biomarkers of exposure and effect in blood and urine and to aid in low-dose to high-dose extrapolation in humans. This study will involve technology developments on a number of fronts at ASU, UCD, and on integrated efforts between the two programs. Development of improved techniques in proteomics (ASU) and both pathway specific and global metabolomics (UCD) have been major technical goals of both Superfund Programs. In this project, the existing techniques will be applied, new approaches innovated, and the resultant data combined and to generate integrated interpretations.


The in situ microcosm array (ISMA) technology relies on a self-contained, patent-pending submersible device featuring a large number of microcosms that are arranged in parallel, thereby allowing for the execution of multiple experiments in situ in parallel at the same time in the same place. Prior to deployment and incubation of the device in the target environment of interest, the individual microcosms can be seeded with microorganisms as desired. Following in situ incubation and retrieval of the tool from a groundwater monitoring well, the device can be analyzed by chemical, genomic and proteomic techniques. Discoveries made during performance of the original project plan are now opening new opportunities to increase the reach and value of the ISMA technology and to accelerate the pace of science. We propose to broaden the scope of 1R01ES015445 by (i) adapting the ISMA for use in anaerobic environments via design of an integrated nutrient injection module, (ii) studying the fate of trichloroethene in sediment from Lawrence Livermore National Lab Site 300 with and without bioaugmentation, and (iii) determining the influence of the antimicrobial compound triclocarban on TCE dechlorination in anaerobic groundwater. This project will yield as a final and tangible product a novel functionality of the ISMA in the form of a nutrient injection unit capable of delivering a constant stream of water-soluble carbon and energy sources to sediment microcosms so as to achieve and maintain anaerobic conditions in the ISMA device. The scope of work of the supplement is directly related to Specific Aims 1 4 of the parent grant. The introduction of new hardware components for the ISMA will expand the utility of the device by making it suitable for studying the biotransformation of EPA priority pollutants and chemical mixtures both aerobically and anaerobically side-by-side in the same monitoring well at the same time. This project will have a notable and traceable impact on U.S. employment and the economy by supporting a doctoral student, providing training opportunities for up to 4 interns over the course of 2 years, and by supporting supply chain businesses in the U.S. that specialize in fine chemicals and instrumentation hardware components.
Effective start/end date9/17/098/31/12


  • HHS: National Institutes of Health (NIH): $228,164.00

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