Effects of electron donors on anaerobic microbial debromination of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

Mengde Qiu, Xingjuan Chen, Daiyong Deng, Jun Guo, Guoping Sun, Bixian Mai, Meiying Xu

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46 Scopus citations


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of widely used flame retardants that have been highly accumulated in sediments. It is reported that microorganisms play an important role in the reductive debromination of PBDEs in anaerobic sediments. However, little is known about the effects of electron donors on the microbial community structure and their debromination capacity in PBDE transformation. In this study, alternate carbon substrates were used as electron donors to enrich the PBDE-debrominating microbial consortia to evaluate the effects of electron donors on PBDE microbial debromination. Decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209) was found to be the dominant (more than 50%) PBDEs congener in all consortia, and the percentage of BDE-209 was deceased by 12% (methanol), 11% (ethanol), 8% (acetate), 9% (lactate), 5% (pyruvate), and 11% (no electron donors), while the relative abundances of most lesser-brominated PBDEs increased after 90-day incubation compared to the initial profile of PBDEs. Substantial shifts in the microbial community structure among different amendments were observed based on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis results. Pseudomonas spp. were identified to be the predominant organisms and the abundances of Band R, which was associated with Pseudomonas sp. SCSWA09, was well correlated with the biodegradation rate of BDE-209. Finally, the microbial community structure was highly correlated with the concentration of deca-BDE, octa-BDE and total nitrogen. These results provide insights into in situ bioremediation of environments contaminated by PBDEs and our understanding of microbial ecology associated with PBDE-debromination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209)
  • Electron donor
  • Microbial community structure
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • Reductive debromination


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