Changes in soil microbial community composition induced by cometabolism of toluene and trichloroethylene
The effects of trichloroethylene (TCE) on microbial community composition were analyzed by reverse sample genome probing. Soil enrichments were incubated in dessicators containing an organic phase of either 1 or 10% (w/w) toluene in vacuum pump oil, delivering constant equilibrium aqueous concentrations of 16 and 143mg/l, respectively. Increasing the equilibrium aqueous concentration of TCE from 0 to 10mg/l led to shifts in community composition at 16, but not at 143mg/l of toluene. In closed system co-degradation studies, TCE at an aqueous concentration of 1mg/1 was effectively degraded by toluene-degrading soil enrichments once the aqueous toluene concentration dropped below 25mg/l. Little TCE degradation was observed at higher toluene concentrations (50–250mg/l). The results indicate that TCE changes microbial community composition under conditions where it is being actively metabolized.