Formation of perfluorocarboxylic acids from 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTS) in landfill leachate: Role of microbial communities

By Hanna Hamida, Loretta Y. Lia, John R. Grace
Environ. Poll.
December 26, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113835

Fluorotelomer compounds in landfill leachate can undergo biotransformation under aerobic conditions and act as a secondary source of perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) to the environment. Very little is known about the role of various microbial communities towards fluorotelomer compounds biotransformation. Using an inoculum prepared from the sediment of a leachate collection ditch, 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTS) biotransformation experiments were carried out. Specific substrates (i.e., glucose, ammonia) and ammonia-oxidizing inhibitor (allylthiourea) were used to produce two experimental runs with heterotrophic (HET) growth only and heterotrophic with ammonia-oxidizing and nitrite oxidizing bacteria (HET + AOB + NOB). After 10 days, ∼20% of the spiked 6:2 FTS removal was observed in HET + AOB + NOB compared to ∼7% under HET condition. Higher 6:2 FTS removal in HET + AOB + NOB likely resulted from ammonia monooxygenase enzyme that catalyzes the first step of ammonia oxidation. The HET + AOB + NOB condition also showed higher PFCA (C4 – C6) formation (∼2% of initially spiked 6:2 FTS), possibly due to higher overall bioactivity. Microbial community analysis through 16s rRNA sequencing confirmed that Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the most abundant phyla (>75% relative abundance) under all experimental conditions. High abundance of Actinobacteria (>17%) was observed under the HET + AOB + NOB condition on day 7. Since Actinobacteria can synthesize a wide range of enzymes including monooxygenases, they likely play an important role in 6:2 FTS biotransformation and PFCA production.

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