Degradation of Environmental Toxins by a Filamentous Bacterium

Introduction Environments contaminated with the chlorinated solvents trichloroethylene (TCE)
and dichloroethylene (DCE) are major cleanup problems. TCE is a common groundwater contaminant in the United States as a result of solvent spills and dry-cleaning chemical disposal. Cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE) is also a common ground-water contaminant that originates from anaerobic dehalogenation of TCE in the environment. These compounds are potential carcinogens and cannot be removed effectively from ground water using conventional water purification processes. For many sites, bioremediation is the only practical approach for cleanup, but the use of previously known solvent-metabolizing microorganism has often been hindered by their extreme sensitivity to the toxic effects of intermediates produced as the result of these bacteria’s degradation of TCE and related compounds, and by their sensitivity of high concentrations of TCE itself. Technology description Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new method using substantially purified cultures of new phenol-oxidizing bacteria that are capable of the cometabolic degradation of TCE and DCE and that are resistant to the toxic effects of metabolic intermediates produced by this degradation. The invention provides a straightforward method for obtaining the filamentous bacteria in enrichment cultures inoculated with environmental samples such as groundwater. Business opportunity The invention provides a method of bioremediation to cleanup environments contaminated with chlorinated aliphatic compounds. Stage of development Initial data and working prototypes exist for this technology.

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