Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 44, Issue 1–2, pp 218–224 | Cite as

Anaerobic biodegradation of pentachlorophenol by a methanogenic consortium

  • P. Juteau
  • R. Beaudet
  • G. McSween
  • F. Lépine
  • S. Milot
  • J. -G. Bisaillon
Environmental Biotechnology


An anaerobic consortium degrading pentachlorophenol (PCP) by methanogenic fermentation was enriched from PCP-contaminated soils. In a semi-continuous reactor, PCP biodegradation was unstable and necessitated periodic additions of unacclimated anaerobic sludge waste to restore the activity. In continuous-flow reactors, PCP degradation activity was more stable when a mixture of glucose and sodium formate was used as secondary carbon source instead of glucose. The analysis of the chlorophenol intermediates suggested that the main pathway of PCP dechlorination was PCP → 2,3,5,6-tetrachlorophenol → 2,3,5-trichlorophenol → 3,5-dichlorophenol → 3-chlorophenol → phenol. In a laboratory-scale continuous-upflow fixed-film column reactor, a PCP removal of more than 99% was achieved at a PCP loading rate of 60 μmol (1 reactor volume)−1 day−1 for a hydraulic retention time of 0.7 day. Analysis of culture samples taken at different levels in the reactor have shown that, at this PCP loading rate, only the lower part of the reactor was active. 3-chlorophenol and 3,5- and 3,4-dichlorophenol were detected at the different levels of the reactor. A study of the microorganisms in the biofilm was carried out by scanning electron microscopy and suggested that the microorganisms involved in the consortium were present as a well-structured arrangement. Methanosaeta-like microorganisms were observed mainly at the base of the biofilm whereas, at the surface, a larger diversity of morphotypes was observed in which coccoid or small rod organisms were dominant. This work shows the importance of the design and the control of the operation parameters on the efficiency of the fixed-film reactor.


Sludge Hydraulic Retention Time Pentachlorophenol Sodium Formate Anaerobic Biodegradation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Juteau
    • 1
  • R. Beaudet
    • 1
  • G. McSween
    • 1
  • F. Lépine
    • 1
  • S. Milot
    • 1
  • J. -G. Bisaillon
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de recherche en microbiologie appliquée Institut Armand-FrappierUniversité du QuébecQuébecCanada

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