Cross-feeding interactions in short chain gaseous alkane-driven perchlorate and selenate reduction

Chun Yu Lai, Mengxiong Wu, Yulu Wang, Jiongbin Zhang, Jiahui Li, Tao Liu, Jun Xia, Zhiguo Yuan, Jianhua Guo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Short chain gaseous alkanes (SCGAs) mainly consist of methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10). The first three SCGAs have been shown to remove perchlorate (ClO4) and selenate (SeO42−), yet it is unknown whether C4H10 is available to reduce these contaminants. This study demonstrated that C4H10 fed biofilms were capable of reducing ClO4 and SeO42− to chloride (Cl) and elemental selenium (Se0), respectively, by employing two independent membrane biofilms reactors (MBfRs). Batch tests showed that C4H10 and oxygen fed biofilms had much higher ClO4 and SeO42− reduction rates and enhanced expression levels of bmoX and pcrA than that without C4H10 or O2. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) accumulated in the biofilms when C4H10 was supplied, and they decomposed for driving ClO4 and SeO42− reduction when C4H10 was absent. Moreover, we revisited the literature and found that a cross-feeding pathway seems to be universal in microaerobic SCGA-driven perchlorate and selenate reduction processes. In the ClO4-reducing MBfRs, Mycobacterium primarily conducts C2H6 and C3H8 oxidation in synergy with Dechloromonas who performs perchlorate reduction, while both Mycobacterium and Rhodococcus carried out C4H10 oxidation with perchlorate-respiring Azospira as the partner. In the SeO42−-reducing MBfRs, Mycobacterium oxidized C2H6 solely or oxidized C3H8 jointly with Rhodococcus, while Burkholderiaceae likely acted as the selenate-reducing bacterium. When C4H10 was supplied as the electron donor, both Mycobacterium and Rhodococcus conducted C4H10 oxidation in synergy with unknow selenate-reducing bacterium. Collectively, we confirm that from CH4 to C4H10, all SCGAs could be utilized as electron donors for bio-reduction process. These findings offer insights into SCGA-driven bio-reduction processes, and are helpful in establishing SCGA-based technologies for groundwater remediation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117215
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Groundwater remediation
  • Membrane biofilm reactor
  • Perchlorate
  • Selenate
  • Short chain gaseous alkanes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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