Effects of hydrocarbon enrichment on trichloroethylene biodegradation and microbial populations in finished compost

S. Sukesan, Maribeth E Watwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


This study focused on the capacity of finished compost, often used as packing material in biofiltration units, to support microbial biodegradation of trichloroethylene (TCE). Finished compost was enriched with methane or propane (10% head space) to stimulate cometabolic biodegradation of gaseous TCE. Successful hydrocarbon enrichment, as indicated by rapid depletion of hydrocarbon gas and measurable growth of hydrocarbon-utilizing micro- organisms, occurred within a week. Within batch reactor flasks, approximately 75% of head space TCE (1-40 ppmv) was rapidly sorbed onto compost material. Up to 99% of the remaining head space TCE was removed via biodegradation in compost enriched with either hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbon enrichment with methane or propane corresponded to 10-fold increases in methanotrophic or propanotrophic populations, respectively. Based on growth assessment under different nutritional regimes, there appeared to be complex metabolic interactions within the microbial community in enriched compost. Five separate bacterial cultures were derived from the hydrocarbon-enriched compost and assayed for the ability to degrade TCE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-642
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology

Cite this