Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Charles C. Somerville

Second Advisor

Philippe T. Georgel

Third Advisor

Ronald E. Gain


Chloroethenes are among the most common groundwater contaminants in the United States. In anoxic groundwater, chloroethenes can be reduced to vinyl chloride (VC), a known carcinogen. The goal of this research was to characterize bacteria that could mineralize VC from a microbial community within a serial aerobic-anaerobic chloroethene bioreactor. Isolations for organisms capable of VC degradation were performed. The ability to degrade VC was first indicated by accumulation of chloride. Gas chromatography assay showed that VC was degraded in cultures capable of chloride accumulation. The epoxyalkane:coenzyme M transferase (EaCoMT) gene which codes for an enzyme previously shown to function in VC mineralization, was observed in several mixed VC degrading cultures. Pure cultures isolated on nutrient rich media from EaCoMT positive cultures did not retain ability to mineralize VC. A confirmed VC degrading pure culture without the EaCoMT gene was isolated but the species identity could not be ascertained.


Vinyl chloride.