Biodegradation: Updating the Concepts of Control for Microbial Cleanup in Contaminated Aquifers

Rainer U. Meckenstock, Martin Elsner, Christian Griebler, Tillmann Lueders, Christine Stumpp, Jens Aamand, Spiros N. Agathos, Hans-Jorgen Albrechtsen, Leen Bastiaens, Poul L. Bjerg, Nico Boon, Winnie Dejonghe, Wei E. Huang, Susanne I. Schmidt, Erik Smolders, Sebastian R. Sorensen, Dirk Springael, Boris M. van Breukelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Biodegradation is one of the most favored and sustainable means of removing organic pollutants from contaminated aquifers but the major steering factors are still surprisingly poorly understood. Growing evidence questions some of the established concepts for control of biodegradation. Here, we critically discuss classical concepts such as the thermodynamic redox zonation, or the use of steady state transport scenarios for assessing biodegradation rates. Furthermore, we discuss if the absence of specific degrader populations can explain poor biodegradation. We propose updated perspectives on the controls of biodegradation in contaminant plumes. These include the plume fringe concept, transport limitations, and transient conditions as currently underestimated processes affecting biodegradation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7073-7081
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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