, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 463–480 | Cite as

Microbial degradation of chlorinated benzenes

  • Jim A. FieldEmail author
  • Reyes Sierra-Alvarez
Review Paper


Chlorinated benzenes are important industrial intermediates and solvents. Their widespread use has resulted in broad distribution of these compounds in the environment. Chlorobenzenes (CBs) are subject to both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Under aerobic conditions, CBs with four or less chlorine groups are susceptible to oxidation by aerobic bacteria, including bacteria (Burkholderia, Pseudomonas, etc.) that grow on such compounds as the sole source of carbon and energy. Sound evidence for the mineralization of CBs has been provided based on stoichiometric release of chloride or mineralization of 14C-labeled CBs to 14CO2. The degradative attack of CBs by these strains is initiated with dioxygenases eventually yielding chlorocatechols as intermediates in a pathway leading to CO2 and chloride. Higher CBs are readily reductively dehalogenated to lower chlorinated benzenes in anaerobic environments. Halorespiring bacteria from the genus Dehalococcoides are implicated in this conversion. Lower chlorinated benzenes are less readily converted, and mono-chlorinated benzene is recalcitrant to biotransformation under anaerobic conditions.


Biotransformation Chlorobenzenes Dehalogenation Dechlorination Microbial degradation Organohalogens 















Dry weight



The authors are grateful to Eurochlor for their financial support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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