Successional Changes in an Evolving Anaerobic Chlorophenol-Degrading Community Used to Infer Relationships between Population Structure and System-Level Processes

Jennifer G. Becker, Gina Berardesco, Bruce E. Rittmann, David A. Stahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


The response of a complex methanogenic sediment community to 2-chlorophenol (2-CP) was evaluated by monitoring the concentrations of this model contaminant and important metabolic intermediates and products and by using rRNA-targeted probes to track several microbial populations. Key relationships between the evolving population structure, formation of metabolic intermediates, and contaminant mineralization were identified. The nature of these relationships was intrinsically linked to the metabolism of benzoate, an intermediate that transiently accumulated during the mineralization of 2-CP. Before the onset of benzoate fermentation, reductive dehalogenation of 2-CP competed with methanogenesis for endogenous reducing equivalents. This suppressed H2 levels, methane production, and archaeal small-subunit (SSU)-rRNA concentrations in the sediment community. The concentrations of bacterial SSU rRNA, including SSU rRNA derived from "Desulfovibrionaceae" populations, tracked with 2-CP levels, presumably reflecting changes in the activity of dehalogenating organisms. After the onset of benzoate fermentation, the abundance of Syntrophus-like SSU rRNA increased, presumably because these syntrophic organisms fermented benzoate to methanogenic substrates. Consequently, although the parent substrate 2-CP served as an electron acceptor, cleavage of its aromatic nucleus also influenced the sediment community by releasing the electron donors H2 and acetate. Increased methane production and archaeal SSU-rRNA levels, which tracked with the Syntrophus-like SSU-rRNA concentrations, revealed that methanogenic populations in particular benefited from the input of reducing equivalents derived from 2-CP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5705-5714
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

Cite this