A limited number of halogenated aliphatic compounds can serve as a growth substrate for aerobic microorganisms. Such cultures have (specifically) developed a variety of enzyme systems to degrade these compounds. Dehalogenations are of critical importance. Various heavily chlorinated compounds are not easily biodegraded, although there are no obvious biochemical or thermodynamic reasons why microorganisms should not be able to grow with any halogenated compound. The very diversity of catabolic enzymes present in cultures that degrade halogenated aliphatics and the occurrence of molecular mechanisms for genetic adaptation serve as good starting points for the evolution of catabolic pathways for compounds that are currently still resistant to biodegradation.
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