- Program Areas
- Energy and Water
- Environmental Restoration
- Munitions Response
- Resource Conservation and Climate Change
- Weapons Systems and Platforms
Quantifying the Presence and Activity of Aerobic, Vinyl Chloride-Degrading Microorganisms in Dilute Groundwater Plumes by Using Real-Time PCR
Vinyl chloride (VC), a known human carcinogen with a maximum contaminant level of 2 parts per billion (ppb), is a significant contaminant of concern present as dilute groundwater plumes at many Department of Defense (DoD) sites. VC accumulates primarily from incomplete anaerobic biotransformation of chlorinated ethenes and ethanes, also common groundwater contaminants. Molecular biology tools (MBT) represent an innovative approach for detecting and quantifying the presence and functionality of aerobic, VC-degrading bacteria in dilute VC plumes, ultimately providing direct lines of evidence for natural attenuation of VC and supporting existing anaerobic bioremediation technologies that generate VC as a metabolic intermediate.
The objective of this project is to develop and validate real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques that can quantify both the presence and functionality of aerobic VC-degrading bacteria in groundwater samples from dilute VC plumes. After the PCR-based techniques are developed, researchers will determine if the aerobic VC degradation rate in groundwater samples can be correlated with aerobic VC degradation functional gene and mRNA transcript abundance.
Molecular biology tools such as real-time PCR (qPCR), reverse transcription (RT)-PCR, and real-time, reverse-transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) will be used to detect and quantify the presence and functionality of VC-degrading bacteria in pure cultures and environmental samples. Recent scientific advances have resulted in the sequencing of functional genes from several aerobic, VC-degrading bacteria. The MBTs to be developed aim to quantify these functional genes in dilute VC plumes and improve the ability to measure VC attenuation processes occurring therein.
The use of MBTs to detect and quantify the presence and functionality of aerobic, VC-degrading bacteria will provide convincing lines of evidence for aerobic natural attenuation of VC at more sites than currently recognized, concurrently supporting existing anaerobic technologies at these sites and facilitating better decision making in ongoing and future bioremediation studies. Therefore, the MBTs to be developed represent significant potential cost savings to DoD by improving bioremediation assessment and design in the field and reducing uncertainty where remediation of VC is involved. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2012)
Points of Contact
Dr. Timothy Mattes
The University of Iowa
SERDP and ESTCP
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