Microbial Cleavage of C-F Bonds in Two C6 Per- and Polyfluorinated Compounds via Reductive Defluorination

Yaochun Yu, Kunyang Zhang, Zhong Li, Changxu Ren, Jin Chen, Ying-Hsuan Lin, Jinyong Liu, Yujie Men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The C-F bond is one of the strongest single bonds in nature. Although microbial reductive dehalogenation is well known for the other organohalides, no microbial reductive defluorination has been documented for perfluorinated compounds except for a single, nonreproducible study on trifluoroacetate. Here, we report on C-F bond cleavage in two C6 per- and polyfluorinated compounds via reductive defluorination by an organohalide-respiring microbial community. The reductive defluorination was demonstrated by the release of F- and the formation of the corresponding product when lactate was the electron donor, and the fluorinated compound was the sole electron acceptor. The major dechlorinating species in the seed culture, Dehalococcoides, were not responsible for the defluorination as no growth of Dehalococcoides or active expression of Dehalococcoides-reductive dehalogenases was observed. It suggests that minor phylogenetic groups in the community might be responsible for the reductive defluorination. These findings expand our fundamental knowledge of microbial reductive dehalogenation and warrant further studies on the enrichment, identification, and isolation of responsible microorganisms and enzymes. Given the wide use and emerging concerns of fluorinated organics (e.g., per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), particularly the perfluorinated ones, the discovery of microbial defluorination under common anaerobic conditions may provide valuable insights into the environmental fate and potential bioremediation strategies of these notorious contaminants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14393-14402
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number22
Early online dateOct 29 2020
StatePublished - Nov 17 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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