Enhanced biotransformation of TCE using plant terpenoids in contaminated groundwater

J. R. -M. Brown, I. P. Thompson, Graeme Iain Paton, A. C. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)



To examine plant terpenoids as inducers of TCE (trichloroethylene) biotransformation by an indigenous microbial community originating from a plume of TCE-contaminated groundwater.

Methods and Results:

One-litre microcosms of groundwater were spiked with 100 mu mol 1-1 of TCE and amended weekly for 16 weeks with 20 mu l 1-1 of the following plant monoterpenes: linalool, pulegone, R-(+) carvone, S-(-) carvone, farnesol, cumene. Yeast extract-amended and unamended control treatments were also prepared. The addition of R-carvone and S-carvone, linalool and cumene resulted in the biotransformation of upwards of 88% of the TCE, significantly more than the unamendment control (61%). The aforementioned group of terpenes also significantly (P < 0 center dot 05) allowed more TCE to be degraded than the remaining two terpenes (farnesol and pulegone), and the yeast extract treatment which biotransformed 74-75% of the TCE. The microbial community profile was monitored by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and demonstrated much greater similarities between the microbial communities in terpene-amended treatments than in the yeast extract or unamended controls.


TCE biotransformation can be significantly enhanced through the addition of selected plant terpenoids.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

Plant terpenoid and nutrient supplementation to groundwater might provide an environmentally benign means of enhancing the rate of in situ TCE bioremediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
Early online date18 Sept 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • biostimulation
  • carvone
  • cumene
  • groundwater
  • plant terpenes
  • secondary plant metabolites
  • TCE
  • degrading bacteria
  • ribosomal-RNA
  • trichloroethylene
  • biodegradation
  • Bioremediation
  • metabolites
  • community
  • solvents
  • methane


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