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Microbial Degradation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Sediment

Tao Yan
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil & Environ. Engr.
University of Hawaii

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that are frequently found at Superfund hazardous waste sites. The widespread presence of PCBs in the environment represents significant threats to human health, due to their association with a wide variety of human diseases and their strong bioaccumulation tendencies. In general, PCBs are very recalcitrant to degradation by physicochemical environmental factors, but microorganisms in the environment have the capability of transforming these chemicals to less toxic and more degradable forms. This seminar will focus on microbial degradation of PCBs in sediment (i.e. under anaerobic conditions), and discuss how molecular biology tools are being used to advance our understanding of these processes, and how improved understanding can help modeling PCB’s natural attenuation and implementing in situ bioremediation.

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