Microbial degradation of perchlorate: Principles and applications

Jianlin Xu, Yanguang Song, Booki Min, Lisa Steinberg, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Perchlorate (ClO4-) release into the environment has occurred primarily in association with its manufacture and use in solid rocket propellant. When released into groundwater, perchlorate can spread over large distances because it is highly soluble in water and adsorbs poorly to soil. Two proven techniques to remove perchlorate from drinking water are anaerobic biological reactors and ion exchange. In this review, we focus on the application of microbiological systems for degrading perchlorate. Some bacteria can use perchlorate as an electron acceptor while oxidizing a large range of substrates. Perchlorate-respiring bacteria (PRB) are widely distributed in the environment, and are enriched at perchlorate-contaminated sites. We review the pathways by which PRB degrade perchlorate, and the different biological treatment processes that have been developed to remove perchlorate from water sources. We also discuss the effects of alternate electron acceptors in the water, such as oxygen and nitrate, on perchlorate removal. Although many different biological treatment systems using PRB have so far only been proven at the bench scale, all pilot scale tests performed to date with a few of these systems have been successful. The success of these perchlorate bioreactor tests indicates that biological treatment is a suitable method for soil remediation and water treatment of perchlorate-contaminated water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-422
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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