Microbial synthesis and transformation of inorganic and organic chlorine compounds

Siavash Atashgahi, Martin G. Liebensteiner, Dick B. Janssen, Hauke Smidt, Alfons J.M. Stams, Detmer Sipkema*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Organic and inorganic chlorine compounds are formed by a broad range of natural geochemical, photochemical and biological processes. In addition, chlorine compounds are produced in large quantities for industrial, agricultural and pharmaceutical purposes, which has led to widespread environmental pollution. Abiotic transformations and microbial metabolism of inorganic and organic chlorine compounds combined with human activities constitute the chlorine cycle on Earth. Naturally occurring organochlorines compounds are synthesized and transformed by diverse groups of (micro)organisms in the presence or absence of oxygen. In turn, anthropogenic chlorine contaminants may be degraded under natural or stimulated conditions. Here, we review phylogeny, biochemistry and ecology of microorganisms mediating chlorination and dechlorination processes. In addition, the co-occurrence and potential interdependency of catabolic and anabolic transformations of natural and synthetic chlorine compounds are discussed for selected microorganisms and particular ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3079
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2018


  • Chlorination
  • Chlorine cycle
  • Chlorine oxyanions
  • Dechlorination
  • Organochlorines


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