Date of Award

Fall 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Elise R Sullivan


A trichloroethene (TCE)-contaminated competent bedrock aquifer exists at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, NH. Characterization by the Bedrock Bioremediation Center (BBC) at the University of New Hampshire showed active in situ anaerobic degradation of TCE. Formation water from discrete, hydraulically connected fractures was extracted to characterize and enumerate the prevalent TCE biodegradation processes using Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Eubacteria (90%), Archaea (5%), and sulfate reducing bacteria within Desulfobacteriaceae (1--26%) were present at all depths (13--30 meters). Two probes targeting the anaerobic TCE-dechlorinating genus, Dehalococcoides (4--10%) were developed. FISH in combination with Flow Cytometry was employed to automate the analysis; however it proved difficult to differentiate microorganisms from background interference. This baseline understanding of community structure is essential for determining if a system is poised to support in situ bioremediation, and aids in monitoring shifts in the microbial population when bioremediation efforts are applied.