Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Anaerobic degradation of halogenated aromatic compounds


Recent microbiological findings show how compounds, regarded hitherto as unusual substrates for anaerobic bacteria, are degraded under anaerobic conditions. The complete conversion of halobenzoic acids and halophenolic compounds to methane by lake sediment and sewage sludge microorganisms has been demonstrated. Since haloaromatic compounds are widely used and may be found in such effluents as those from the forest industry, these studies could stimulate a broader interest in anaerobic treatment of industrial waste waters which contain unusual organic compounds.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Boyd SA, Shelton DR (1984) Anaerobic biodegradation of chlorophenols in fresh and acclimated sludge. Appl Environ Microbiol 47:272–277

  2. 2.

    Boyd SA, Shelton DR, Berry D, Tiedje JM (1983) Anaerobic biodegradation of phenolic compounds in digested sludge. Appl Environ Microbiol 46:50–54

  3. 3.

    Brune G, Schoberth SM and Sahm H (1982) Anaerobic treatment of an industrial wastewater containing acetic acid, furfural and sulphite. Process Biochem 17 (3):20–24,35

  4. 4.

    Brune G, Schoberth SM, Sahm H (1983) Growth of a strictly anaerobic bacterium on furfural (2-furaldehyde). Appl Environ Microbiol 46:1187–1192

  5. 5.

    Hager LP (1981) Mother nature likes some halogenated compounds. In: Hollaender A, DeMoss RD, Kaplan S, Konisky J, Savage D, Wolfe RS (eds): Genetic engineering of microorganisms for chemicals. Basic Life Sciences, vol. 19, Plenum Publishers, New York, pp 415–529

  6. 6.

    Haklulinen R, Salkinoja-Salonen (1982) Treatment of pulp and paper industry wastewaters in an anaerobic fluidised bed reactor. Process Biochem 17 (2): 18–22

  7. 7.

    Horowitz A, Suflita JM, Tiedje JM (1983) Reductive dehalogenations of halobenzoates by anaerobic lake sediment microorganisms. Appl Environ Microbiol 45:1459–1465

  8. 8.

    Hungate RE (1969) A roll tube method for cultivation of strict anaerobes. In: Norris JR, Ribbons DW (eds) Methods in microbiology, vol. 3B. Academic Press, London, pp 117–132

  9. 9.

    Klinman JP (1972) The mechanism of enzyme catalysed reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-dependent reductions. J Biol Chem 247:7977–7987

  10. 10.

    Knackmuss HJ (1982) Xenobiotic degradation in industrial sewage: haloaromatics as target substrates. Biochem Soc Symp 48:173–190

  11. 11.

    Landner L, Lindstrom K, Karlsson M, Nordin J, Sorensen L (1977) Bioaccumulation in fish of chlorinated phenols from kraft pulp mill bleachery effluents. Bull Environ Contain Toxicol 18:663–673

  12. 12.

    Mountfort O, Bryant MP (1982) Isolation and characterization of an anaerobic syntrophic benzoate-degrading bacterium from sewage sludge. Arch Microbiol 133:249–256

  13. 13.

    Mountfort DO, Brulla WJ, Krumholz LR, Bryant MP (1984)Syntrophus buswellii gen. nov., sp. nov.: benzoate catabolizer from methanogenic ecosystems. Int J Syst Bacteriol 34:216–217

  14. 14.

    Schink B, Pfennig N (1982) Fermentations of trihydroxybenzenes byPelobacter acidigallici gen. tnov. sp. nov., a new, strictly anaerobic, non-sporeforming bacterium. Arch Microbiol 133:195–205

  15. 15.

    Schoberth S (1973) A new strain ofDesulfovibrio gigas isolated from a sewage plant. Arch Mikrobiol 92:365–368

  16. 16.

    Shelton DR, Tiedje JM (1984) Isolation and partial characterization of bacteria in an anaerobic consortium that mineralizes 3-chlorobenzoic acid. Appl Environ Microbiol 48:840–848

  17. 17.

    Suflita JM, Horowitz A, Shelton DR, Tiedje JM (1982) Dehalogenation: a novel pathway for the anaerobic biodegradation of halo-aromatic compounds. Science 218:115–117

  18. 18.

    Suflita JM, Robinson JA, Tiedje JM (1983) Kinetics of microbial dehalogenation of haloaromatic substrates in methanogenic environments. Appl Environ Microbiol 45:1466–1473

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sahm, H., Brunner, M. & Schoberth, S.M. Anaerobic degradation of halogenated aromatic compounds. Microb Ecol 12, 147–153 (1986).

Download citation


  • Methane
  • Waste Water
  • Sludge
  • Sewage
  • Anaerobic Condition