Influence of different redox conditions and dissolved organic matter on pesticide biodegradation in simulated groundwater systems

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Insights into the influence of redox conditions, that is the availability of electron acceptors, and dissolved organic matter (DOM) on pesticide biodegradation in groundwater are key to understanding the environmental fate of pesticides in natural groundwater systems. Here, the influence of redox conditions and supplemental DOM addition on biodegradation of pesticides, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 2,6-dichlorobenzamide (BAM), mecoprop-p (MCPP) and bentazone, was tested in microcosm and subsequent column experiments. Pesticide degradation, functional genes and changes in specific fractions and quantity of DOM were systematically quantified. In aerobic microcosm experiments, the highest 2,4-D degradation rate was obtained with the presence of more assimilable DOM. In column experiments, minimal pesticide degradation (≤33.77%) in any anaerobic redox conditions was observed in the absence of DOM. However, in the presence of DOM, 2,4-D biodegradation was considerably enhanced under nitrate-reducing conditions (from 23.5 ± 10.2% to 82.3 ± 11.6%) and in a column without external electron acceptor amendment (from −6.3 ± 12.6% to 31.1 ± 36.3%). Observed preferential depletion of the fulvic acid fraction of DOM provides indications for specific functional DOM properties. The qPCR results show an increase in microbial biomass and functional genes (tfdA) in liquid phase after DOM addition. The results of this work provide insights into the interplays among DOM, redox geochemistry, and pesticide biodegradation, and show the potential of a novel approach – DOM addition to groundwater systems – for in situ biostimulation technology to remove pesticides from groundwater systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-699
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2019



  • Biostimulation
  • DOM
  • Groundwater system
  • Pesticide biodegradation
  • Redox conditions

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