Bacterial biofilm-community selection during autohydrogenotrophic reduction of nitrate and perchlorate in ion-exchange brine

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Three hydrogen-based membrane biofilm reactors (MBfR) biologically reduced nitrate and perchlorate in a synthetic ion-exchange (IX) brine. Inocula from different natural saline environments were employed to initiate the three MBfRs. Under high-salinity (3%) conditions, bioreduction of nitrate and perchlorate occurred simultaneously, and the three MBfRs from the different inocula exhibited similar removal fluxes for nitrate and perchlorate. Clone libraries were generated from samples of the biofilms in the three MBfRs and compared to those of their inocula. When H2 was the sole exogenous electron donor under high-salinity conditions, MBfR-driven community shifts were observed with a similar pattern regardless of inoculum. The following 16S rRNA gene phylogenetic analysis showed the presence of novel perchlorate-reducing bacteria in the salt-tolerant mBfR communities. These findings suggest that autohydrogenotrophic and high-salinity conditions provided strong selective pressure for novel perchlorate-reducing populations in the mBfRs.

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