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Influence of growth medium on cometabolic degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by Sphingomonas sp. strain PheB4


The influence of growth medium on cometabolic degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was investigated when Sphingomonas sp. strain PheB4 isolated from surface mangrove sediments was grown in either phenanthrene-containing mineral salts medium (PMSM) or nutrient broth (NB). The NB-grown culture exhibited a more rapid cometabolic degradation of single and mixed non-growth substrate PAHs compared to the PMSM-grown culture. The concentrations of PAH metabolites were also lower in NB-grown culture than in PMSM-grown culture, suggesting that NB-grown culture removed metabolites at a faster rate, particularly, for metabolites produced from cometabolic degradation of a binary mixture of PAHs. Cometabolic pathways of single PAH (anthracene, fluorene, or fluoranthene) in NB-grown culture showed similarity to that in PMSM-grown culture. However, cometabolic pathways of mixed PAHs were more diverse in NB-grown culture than that in PMSM-grown culture. These results indicated that nutrient rich medium was effective in enhancing cometabolic degradation of mixed PAHs concomitant with a rapid removal of metabolites, which could be useful for the bioremediation of mixed PAHs contaminated sites using Sphingomonas sp. strain PheB4.

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We thank Y. S. Wong, Lilian Vrijmoed, Paul Shin, S.G. Cheung, H. W. Zhou, and Ting Zhen for their advice and assistance. The financial support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 20307012) and 863 Hi-Tech Research and Development Program of China (no. 2002AA649230) as well as from Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR (project no. CityU 1449/05M, 9041073) are gratefully acknowledged. The Administrative Bureau of Guangdong Neilingding Futian National Nature Reserve is also acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Tiangang Luan or Nora F. Y. Tam.

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Zhong, Y., Luan, T., Wang, X. et al. Influence of growth medium on cometabolic degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by Sphingomonas sp. strain PheB4. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 75, 175–186 (2007).

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  • Biodegradation
  • Cometabolism
  • Solid phase microextraction
  • Mangrove ecosystems