Organohalide respiration potential in marine sediments from Aarhus Bay

Chen Zhang*, Siavash Atashgahi, Tom N.P. Bosma, Peng Peng, Hauke Smidt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Organohalide respiration (OHR), catalysed by reductive dehalogenases (RDases), plays an important role in halogen cycling. Natural organohalides and putative RDase-encoding genes have been reported in Aarhus Bay sediments, however, OHR has not been experimentally verified. Here we show that sediments of Aarhus Bay can dehalogenate a range of organohalides, and different organohalides differentially affected microbial community compositions. PCE-dechlorinating cultures were further examined by 16S rRNA gene-targeted quantitative PCR and amplicon sequencing. Known organohalide-respiring bacteria (OHRB) including Dehalococcoides, Dehalobacter and Desulfitobacterium decreased in abundance during transfers and serial dilutions, suggesting the importance of yet uncharacterized OHRB in these cultures. Switching from PCE to 2,6-DBP led to its complete debromination to phenol in cultures with and without sulfate. 2,6-DBP debrominating cultures differed in microbial composition from PCE-dechlorinating cultures. Desulfobacterota genera recently verified to include OHRB, including Desulfovibrio and Desulfuromusa, were enriched in all microcosms, whereas Halodesulfovibrio was only enriched in cultures without sulfate. Hydrogen and methane were detected in cultures without sulfate. Hydrogen likely served as electron donor for OHR and methanogenesis. This study shows that OHR can occur in marine environments mediated by yet unknown OHRB, suggesting their role in natural halogen cycling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2022


  • 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing
  • 2,6-Dibromophenol (2,6-DBP)
  • Aarhus Bay marine sediments
  • organohalide respiring prokaryotes
  • reductive dehalogenation
  • tetrachloroethene (PCE)


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