FOLIA MICROBIOLOGICA 44: 247-262 (1999)
Tetrachloroethene is a frequent groundwater contaminant often persisting in the subsurface environments. It is recalcitrant under aerobic conditions because it is in a highly oxidized state and is not readily susceptible to oxidation. Nevertheless, at least 15 organisms from different metabolic groups, viz. halorespirators (9), acetogens (2), methanogens (3) and facultative anaerobes (2), that are able to metabolize tetrachloroethene have been isolated as axenic cultures to-date. Some of these organisms couple dehalogenation to energy conservation and utilize tetrachloroethene as the only source of energy while others dehalogenate tetrachloroethene fortuitously. Halorespiring organisms (halorespirators) utilize halogenated organic compounds as electron accepters in an anaerobic respiratory process. Different organisms exhibit differences in the final products of tetrachloroethene dehalogenation, some strains convert tetrachloroethene to trichloroethene only; while others also carry out consecutive dehalogenation to dichloroethenes and vinylchloride. Thus far, only a single organism, ‘Dehalococcoides ethenogenes‘ strain 195, has been isolated which dechlorinates tetrachloroethene all the way down to ethylene. The majority of tetrachloroethene-dehalogenating organisms have been isolated only in the past few years and several of them, i.e., Dehalobacter restrictus, Desulfilobacterium dehalogenans, ‘Dehalococcoides ethenogenes‘, ‘Dehalaspirillum multivorans‘, Desulfuromonas chloroethenica, and Desulfomonile tiedjei, are representatives of new taxonomic groups. This contribution summarizes the available information regarding the axenic cultures of the tetrachloroethene-dehalogenating bacteria. The present knowledge about the isolation of these organisms, their physiological characteristics, morphology, taxonomy and their ability to dechlorinate tetrachloroethene is presented to facilitate a comprehensive comparison.