The industrial complex Neot Hovav, in Israel, is situated above an anaerobic fractured chalk aquitard, which is polluted by a wide variety of hazardous organic compounds. These include volatile and non-volatile, halogenated, organic compounds. In this study, we characterized the indigenous bacterial population in 17 boreholes of the groundwater environment, while observing the spatial variations in the population and structure as a function of distance from the polluting source. In addition, the de-halogenating potential of the microbial groundwater population was tested through a series of lab microcosm experiments, thus exemplifying the potential and limitations for bioremediation of the site. In all samples, the dominant phylum was Proteobacteria
. In the production plant area, the non-obligatory organo-halide respiring bacteria (OHRB) Firmicutes
Phylum was also detected in the polluted water, in abundancies of up to 16 %. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis of the microbial community structure in the groundwater exhibited clusters of distinct populations following the location in the industrial complex and distance from the polluting source. Dehalogenation of halogenated ethylene was demonstrated in contrast to the persistence of brominated alcohols. Persistence is likely due to the chemical characteristics of brominated alcohols, and not because of the absence of active de-halogenating bacteria.
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