Biodegradation processes in a laboratory-scale groundwater contaminant plume assessed by fluorescence imaging and microbial analysis

Rees, Helen C.; Oswald, Sascha E.; Banwart, Steven A.; Pickup, Roger W.; Lerner, David N.. 2007 Biodegradation processes in a laboratory-scale groundwater contaminant plume assessed by fluorescence imaging and microbial analysis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73 (12). 3865-3876. 10.1128/AEM.02933-06

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Flow reactors containing quartz sand colonized with biofilm were set up as physical model aquifers to allow degrading plumes of acetate or phenol to be formed from a point source. A noninvasive fluorescent tracer technique was combined with chemical and biological sampling in order to quantify transport and biodegradation processes. Chemical analysis of samples showed a substantial decrease in carbon concentration between the injection and outflow resulting primarily from dilution but also from biodegradation. Two-dimensional imaging of the aqueous oxygen [O2(aq)] concentration field quantified the depletion of O2(aq) within the contaminant plume and provided evidence for microbial respiration associated with biodegradation of the carbon source. Combined microbiological, chemical, and O2(aq) imaging data indicated that biodegradation was greatest at the plume fringe. DNA profiles of bacterial communities were assessed by temperature gradient gel electrophoresis, which revealed that diversity was limited and that community changes observed depended on the carbon source used. Spatial variation in activity within the plume could be quantitatively accounted for by the changes observed in active cell numbers rather than differences in community structure, the total biomass present, or the increased enzyme activity of individual cells. Numerical simulations and comparisons with the experimental data were used to test conceptual models of plume processes. Results demonstrated that plume behavior was best described by growth and decay of active biomass as a single functional group of organisms represented by active cell counts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1128/AEM.02933-06
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Parr
ISSN: 0099-2240
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 19 May 2008 15:04 +0 (UTC)

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