Metagenomic analysis of a stable trichloroethene-degrading microbial community. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dehalococcoides bacteria are the only organisms known to completely reduce chlorinated ethenes to the harmless product ethene. However, Dehalococcoides dechlorinate these chemicals more effectively and grow more robustly in mixed microbial communities than in isolation. In this study, the phylogenetic composition and gene content of a functionally stable trichloroethene-degrading microbial community was examined using metagenomic sequencing and analysis. For phylogenetic classification, contiguous sequences (contigs) longer than 2500bp were grouped into classes according to tetranucleotide frequencies and assigned to taxa based on rRNA genes and other phylogenetic marker genes. Classes were identified for Clostridiaceae, Dehalococcoides, Desulfovibrio, Methanobacterium, Methanospirillum, as well as a Spirochete, a Synergistete, and an unknown Deltaproteobacterium. Dehalococcoides contigs were also identified based on sequence similarity to previously sequenced genomes, allowing the identification of 170kb on contigs shorter than 2500bp. Examination of metagenome sequences affiliated with Dehalococcoides revealed 406 genes not found in previously sequenced Dehalococcoides genomes, including 9 cobalamin biosynthesis genes related to corrin ring synthesis. This is the first time that a Dehalococcoides strain has been found to possess genes for synthesizing this cofactor critical to reductive dechlorination. Besides Dehalococcoides, several other members of this community appear to have genes for complete or near-complete cobalamin biosynthesis pathways. In all, 17 genes for putative reductive dehalogenases were identified, including 11 novel ones, all associated with Dehalococcoides. Genes for hydrogenase components (271 in total) were widespread, highlighting the importance of hydrogen metabolism in this community. PhyloChip analysis confirmed the stability of this microbial community.

published proceedings

  • ISME J

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Brisson, V. L., West, K. A., Lee, P., Tringe, S. G., Brodie, E. L., & Alvarez-Cohen, L.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Brisson, Vanessa L||West, Kimberlee A||Lee, Patrick KH||Tringe, Susannah G||Brodie, Eoin L||Alvarez-Cohen, Lisa

publication date

  • January 2012