Evaluation of electron donors for biological perchlorate removal highlights the importance of diverse perchlorate-reducing populations
This research investigated the treatment of a synthetic groundwater with approximately 100 mg L−1 perchlorate (ClO4−) and 15 mg L−1 nitrate (NO3−-N) using a bench-scale, fluidized-bed bioreactor (FBR). The groundwater was amended sequentially with acetate and MicroC2000™, a proprietary, glycerol-based electron donor. Nitrate reduction to less than 0.05 mg L−1 NO3−-N and perchlorate removal to less than 0.3 mg L−1 ClO4− occurred under both electron donor regimes, although a higher biomass yield was observed and a higher influent COD concentration was required to maintain the same effluent quality when MicroC2000™ was used as the electron donor. High-throughput sequencing of partial 16S rRNA genes from biomass collected at several time points revealed that a single Dechloromonas population dominated the perchlorate-reducing community under both electron donors and Dechloromonas species comprised greater than 30% relative abundance of the bacterial community by the end of reactor operation. The same Dechloromonas population was abundant in two bench-scale systems fed lower perchlorate concentrations, although several other perchlorate-reducing bacteria, presumably with higher affinities for perchlorate, were also abundant in those systems. The results suggest that to reduce perchlorate to levels that allow groundwater to serve as a drinking water source, distinct environments for diverse perchlorate-reducing bacteria with high and low affinities for perchlorate are needed. Such conditions can be created by using two bioreactors in series.