Identifying dominant anaerobic microorganisms for degradation of benzene

Contamination of soils and groundwater with gasoline often results in the development of anaerobic zones. Benzene is particularly persistent under anaerobic conditions even in the enhanced anaerobic biodegradation (EAB) process. Degradation of benzene has been demonstrated under nitrate-reducing condition, and sulphate-reducing condition. However, information of dominant indigenous species within the microorganisms for degrading benzene is still limited. In order to identify the target bacteria, a novel approach is required, which requires less biomass and provides direct evidence for benzene incorporation. Enrichment of benzene-degrading microorganisms with [13C] benzene and nutrients implementation is a prerequisite for target bacteria identification. Dominant bacteria identities will be revealed by pyrosequencing. Benzene incorporation by the enriched consortium will be demonstrated by SR-FTIR spectromicroscopy analysis of [13C] benzene. In this manner it is believed to provide direct evidence for benzene incorporation by dominant indigenous bacteria, and furnish useful information about their structure, function, and dynamics. The outcomes will provide a theoretical guide for successfully implementing EAB at PHC-contaminated sites for Stantec. The developed EAB technology will be recognized by existing and potential clients, federal or provincial regulators, academic institutes, and consulting companies.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Jian Peng


Zheng Lu


Stantec Consulting Ltd.


Engineering - civil


Environmental industry


University of Saskatchewan



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